YSS celebrates 30 years of service

Note: This is the first in a series of four stories about Youth and Shelter Services of Marshall County as the agency celebrates its 30th anniversary.

As nonprofits struggle with funding sources and finding their niche, Youth and Shelter Services of Marshall County can be proud of the milestone it has reached this year.

YSS is celebrating 30 years of service to the community

“Being able to fend off cuts and be resilient as an agency is a key to our success,” said David Hicks, director of the YSS office in Marshalltown.

YSS provides in-home counseling, transitional living, family development, prevention and community outreach in the area. Hicks said his staff serves more than 1,000 people a year.

“We focus on improving healthy parenting skills to keep that child safe,” Hicks said. “Child welfare and child safety – that’s the bottom line.”

Hicks, a staff member for 18 years and director for the past seven years, hasn’t done it alone. He has had dedicated staff and board members through the years and the same executive director overseeing the five YSS offices in the state – George Belitsos.

“With his leadership this place has grown,” Hicks said.

He also wants to tip his cap to the community, which has been very supportive.

“We have tremendous community support,” Hicks said.

Hicks said YSS has found its place in the community by serving the needs out there, not just throwing money at a problem.

“It’s always been, we’re going to find a need and fill it,” he said.

He said the Marshall County board of supervisors was on board with support from the start in 1983, and other community agencies have been key to partner with.

Agencies like Child Abuse Prevention Services, Substance Abuse Treatment Unit of Central Iowa, Center Associates and Mid-Iowa Community Action have been key collaborators to the success of YSS.

“There’s security in numbers because we collaborate together,” Hicks said.

YSS started in Marshalltown with two staff members and now has 16. Through it all, it’s the success stories that motivate YSS staff to push forward.

“The successes definitely keep us going,” Hicks said. “The ability to provide services in their time of need is really empowering. It’s really fun when it works.”

Read more about the success stories in future issues of the Times-Republican as this special weekly series continues.