Dozens of supporters came to Tuesday's Youth and Family Center of Hamilton County Holiday Open House to honor those who serve and give to the organization.
The open house, held at the ISU Extension Office, also served as a farewell to longtime staff member Carol Zills. She is retiring at the end of the year after 20 years of working for Youth and Family Services.
As the second employee of the organization, followed only by Bob Schultz who retired in 2011, Zills saw her workplace grow to 10 staff members and transition from typewriters to computers, according to Service Director Jane Adams who introduced her.
Carol Zills, left, receives a standing ovation on Tuesday evening at Youth and Family Center of Hamilton County’s Holiday Open House. Zills is retiring after 20 years with the organization. She was the second employee at Youth and Family following Bob Schultz who retired in 2011. Zills will step down at the end of the year.
Nicholle Buckels, left, spoke to Youth and Family Center Open House attendees on Tuesday night about her time in Foster Care and how she came to be adopted by Ruth Buckels, a woman she met at a Youth and Shelter Services coffee event in Ames shortly before her 18th birthday.
The crowd stood for applause as Zills approached the podium in appreciation for her many years as Office Manager. Even though she leaves Youth and Family as the most experienced staff member, Zills said she's leaving the organization in the hands of very capable people.
"We've got a terrific staff, the board of directors are so dedicated and I know there's terrific community support for this organization," Zills said. "It's really warm to know that these people are supporting Youth and Family Center by the things they do for us."
In retirement, Zills said she's looking forward to sleeping in and staying up late to enjoy a good book.
The open house also featured a presentation by Nicholle Buckels, who went into foster care and found an adoptive family through a Youth and Shelter Services event.
Bouncing between parents for many years, Buckels ran away at the age of 14 to escape parental abuse. She was later taken to a shelter, and lived in several shelters and homes and one treatment center. Eventually, she lived in Ames with a foster family.
"I kind of gave up on finding homes since I never liked any home that I lived in," Buckels said. "I was always the opposite of my brother. He always wanted to be adopted. I didn't. It wasn't something I thought about or cared about."
At a coffee event for Youth and Shelter Services, she met Ruth Buckels. After seeing her family, Nicholle Buckels said she became curious about adoption. After asking her many questions about it and attending events like the open house, she asked Ruth Buckels if she and her husband would adopt her. They did, three days before her 18th birthday.
"Between my parents and all the homes and shelters I've been in, I can say I've had a successful story," Nicholle Buckels said.
She is currently attending college for a human services degree.
Also at the open house, Bruce Johnson was honored with a Volunteer Service Award. Many communities in Hamilton County were also recognized for their contributions to the local Youth and Family Center.