Op-Ed

Serving at-risk youth

Youth, volunteers, and staff work together to sell fruit, vegetables and flowers grown in the WeGrow Garden, part of Northwest Youth Services’ Vocational Readiness program in June 2014, in Bellingham.
Youth, volunteers, and staff work together to sell fruit, vegetables and flowers grown in the WeGrow Garden, part of Northwest Youth Services’ Vocational Readiness program in June 2014, in Bellingham. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Northwest Youth Services was established in 1976 and had about 167 volunteers in 2015.

Purpose: Northwest Youth Services provides housing and support services to young people age 13-24 in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Our mission is to collaborate with at-risk, runaway and homeless youth to foster self-reliance. Our vision is that all young people have a place to belong: to be safe, heard and valued. For 40 years, Northwest Youth Services has been the doorway to safety and the pathway to progress for thousands of young lives.

Volunteer highlights: So many incredible volunteers have supported Northwest Youth Services over the years. Anton has been a volunteer with the Street Outreach team at Northwest Youth Services for almost two years. He has been a crucial part of our team and consistently supports the staff and clients in many different ways. Anton has the ability to adjust to a variety of situations, whether it’s playing an intense game of Uno with youth in during drop-in hours, handing out snacks on the street, or finding creative ways to engage with youth who come into our office needing help. Anton’s sense of humor and sass are just two of the many strengths that he uses to build connections with staff and clients. Our Street Outreach program would not be the same without his presence on the team.

Signature fundraiser: Northwest Youth Services’ 40th Anniversary Gala, Nov. 4, Settlemyer Hall at Bellingham Technical College.

Wish list: These items are always needed to help keep youth safe, warm and comfortable: snacks like instant soup, granola bars, and beef jerky; sleeping bags and blankets; tents and tarps; and men’s and women’s warm, waterproof clothing.

Current volunteer needs: We are currently looking for volunteers who are excited to collaborate with youth to support them in hands-on skill building activities. WeGrow and WeCreations, part of our Vocational Readiness program, are looking for experienced gardeners and crafters. Join us!

For more information, go online to nwys.org.

VOLUNTEER MONTH

April is National Volunteer Month and The Bellingham Herald has partnered with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County to highlight local non-profit agencies that offer opportunities to become involved in our community. For more information online about the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, go to whatcomvolunteer.org.

  Comments