Hope and opportunity

YSS?shares stories, kicks off annual fundraising campaign

YSS of Hamilton County held its annual holiday celebration Tuesday night and shared stories of hope and opportunity from current and former clients, present staff members and its chief executive officer.

The event was also a kickoff for the annual fundraising drive.

Jane Adams, executive director of YSS of Hamilton County, welcomed those in attendance and talked about the many services the organization had provided in the past year.

“Through all of these sessions, our staff offered support to the youths we worked with, hope to the youth we work and help to move on to positive lives and to be productive, happy citizens,” Adams said.

The evening was dedicated to hearing the stories of those who had benefited from services offered through YSS. Andrew Allen, the organization’s CEO, spoke about his experiences as a troubled teen who eventually went through substance abuse treatment with YSS. Allen went on to earn a college degree and worked for Principal Financial, heading up the firm’s Foundation. He became the head of YSS when founder Dr. George Belitsoes retired.

Allen said the agency, formerly known as Youth and Shelter Services, had recently rebranded itself as YSS — Youth Standing Strong. He added that a new mission statement was developed to concisely state the agency’s purpose.

“Our mission statement is to ‘create hope and opportunity by putting kids first.’ It’s simple,” he said. “It’s my hope and desire that this resonates with all of our employees. Is what I’m doing creating hope? Is what I’m doing creating opportunity?”

YSS Employee Becky Anderson, a self-sufficiency advocate, talked about her experiences with YSS as a youth.

She was part of the aftercare program as she was nearing adulthood. She credited her aftercare sponsor for helping her grow.

“I got two college degrees thanks to her,”she said.

Anderson also introduced one of her clients, Jamie, who will complete aftercare later this month.

“I don’t think I’d be here speaking to you if it wasn’t for the aftercare program,” he said.

The final speaker, Jackie, was a grandmother who was caring for a preteen grandson. She credited YSS services for helping with the young man.

“I’m very grateful for everything that YSS has done, for our family and our future” she said.