Vashon Youth and Family Services is a non-profit organization that has been providing human services to residents of Vashon Island in Washington for thirty-one years. Their mission is to help residents living on the island raise thriving, resilient children and youth by fostering a community of emotionally healthy, resourceful family and individuals. The non-profit offers a variety of social services for children and families that centers on the well-being of a family’s child.
The organization was first developed as a one-room service center that provided limited counseling and job placement services for families. Today, Vashon Youth and Family Services is the primary social service agency on the island in Washington. Also, it is the only licensed mental agency on Vashon Island. The agency aims to help families with a specific set of services needed in order to thrive. It provides a multitude of prevention and intervention services. Many of the services include; school-based emotional intelligence and support for at risk student programs, individual and family counseling, homeless assistance, parenting support, emergency financial assistance, and substance abuse treatment. The goal for the organization is that no matter what service a client is in need of, Vashon Youth and Family Services creates a plan that provides a client with access to many different kinds of resources in order to help the client overcome the circumstances that they are facing in their lives.
There are many wonderful attributes that Vashon Youth and Family Services acquire. For example, because the agency is a community mental health clinic, many of the clients are teenagers in need of counseling. Many of the teenagers that come for counseling have been involved in arguments at school, or not even wanting to go to school at all. Many times, the organization work with teenagers that seem to be out of control in relation to their parents, teachers, or peers. In other common cases, many teenagers are fearful or depressed, withdrawn, or emotionally preoccupied. Therapy at Vashon Youth and Family Services help teenagers express their feelings in a safe environment.
Along with working with teenagers, the Vashon Youth and Family Services works to empower the LGBTQ community by providing support to the Vashon High School Gay-Straight Alliance. They offer education programs to teachers and other professionals who serve the LGBTQ youth. The non-profit also organizes field trips and extracurricular actives for GSA students in order to build connections with each other and the larger LGBTQ community. The agency also provides one-on-one counseling and support groups to the LGBTQ community and allied youth. Their mission is to work with and empower LGBTQ and allied youth to effect positive change in their school community, as well as the Vashon community and beyond the Island.
The non-profit has also been a huge help towards creating a fun and educational environment for children. For children between the ages of five and twelve, Vashon Youth and Family Services has been able to develop a program called Vashon Kids. Dependable, creative, and convenient before and after school care is offered. The program is located at Chautauqua, ensuring familiarity for children and flexibility for parents. Regardless, if a parent is at work or running errands, Vashon Kids is an affordable option for all families. Children can come full time or part time, depending of specific family needs. The organization can accommodate drop-in dates for parents who have days when their schedule gets turned around. This service has been providing creative programming since 1995. The experienced staff focus on encouraging children’s unique spirit while teaching them to play in a healthy environment, accepting others who are different and resolve conflicts respectfully. During the school year there is a designated homework time where the staff also assists children with their homework. The program offers a lot of academic and enrichment actives that focus on science, art, humanities, english, and sports. Breakfast and healthy afternoon snacks are also provided for the children. There is also financial aid available for families.
Vashon Youth and Family Services has helped the community tremendously. They have helped prevent individuals from losing their housing or to help with keeping utilities on like electricity and water when they are in danger of being shut off. Individuals with health needs can have access to the organization’s health center and pharmacy. They also work really closely with other organizations so when they cannot offer a specific service, they can offer referrals to a number of appropriate resources. With donations and community support, this organization has been able to help many residents in the Vashon Island community.
Vashon has a wonderful organization that supports the community and provides a positive environment for children, parents, and young adults. The agency offers many services that support individual’s specific needs. Whether it is counseling, schooling for children, or housing support, Vashon Youth and Family Services has been a large support throughout the community.