Youth Eastside Services (YES) recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a ceremony and an open house at its Bellevue location.
YES serves as a lifeline for youth and families coping with challenges such as emotional distress, substance abuse and violence. Through intervention, outreach and prevention, YES works to build and strengthen relationships and advocate for a safer community for youth throughout the Eastside.
YES has four offices throughout the Eastside in Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish.
YES first opened its doors in 1968 with Dr. Phil Nudelman and Merle Landerholm and was run out of a small house and served a small number of youths. In 2017, YES has “touched” nearly 80,000 lives and nearly 7,000 lives directly.
“We’re still here because the quality partnerships, counselors and community,” Patti Skelton-McGougan, YES CEO, said. “It’s amazing to think of all the little footprints that have come through these doors—kids, teens, parents and volunteers.”
Sarah Yount, a former YES client, was the celebration’s keynote speaker. Yount said she started mental health counseling when she was 14 after her father sexually abused her. Going from counselor to counselor, she said she couldn’t find the right one. Her behavior became more “risky” and she said her “acting out” was a way to receive attention. After attempting suicide, she was connected to a counselor through YES in Kirkland who taught her healthy coping skills and ultimately led her to living a healthy life.
“I’ve been able to do so much more than I ever thought,” Yount said. “I feel very honored to be here and see YES continue to thrive and serve local youths and their families.
Yount is in the process of becoming a mental health counselor, so she can help other people like her counselor had helped her.
“There’s a counselor for everyone,” she said. “Just don’t give up. There’s always going to be help out there.”
Skelton-McGougan presented partner appreciation awards to YES’s primary supporting partners, including Ross Hunter, secretary of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families; Kathy Lambert, King County councilmember; John Chelminiak, mayor of Bellevue; Amy Walen, mayor of Kirkland; John Marchione, mayor of Redmond; Dr. Ivan Duran, Bellevue School District superintendent and Dr. Jane Stavem, Lake Washington School District superintendent.
Bob Jackson, YES executive director from 1970-73, said it’s been wonderful to see YES continue and grow throughout the years.
“It’s really exciting to see how far it’s come,” he said. “I think it was the strength of the board and its supporters that kept it going.”
Skelton-McGougan said that even though YES has prospered over the last 50 years, a lot of people still don’t know about it.
“We help anyone regardless of being able to pay. We want nothing more than to serve the youth and families in our area and see them become happy and healthy,” she said. “Instead of seeing things as a problem, we aim to help give them skills to get better.”
To learn more about YES, visit www.youtheastsideservices.org.