"You Opened My Eyes to a Different World"
"I just don't know what to do anymore."
"I want the best for my son."
"Our family can't continue this way."

These are phrases YESS team members hear from parents who feel at a loss for how to provide the best care for their child and family. Sometimes it is a phone call in the middle of the night from a parent frustrated and scared because of their teenager's behaviors. Other times it's a parent and child at YESS' door asking for help or thinking shelter is the only option. When this happens, YESS' Jen P., Early Intervention Specialist, works with the family to figure out their options and connect them with resources.

One day, Susan*, walked in with her 8th grade son, Drake*. Neither knew what to do. They both knew it wasn't working at home, and they needed help.

Drake thought his mom's rules were too strict, while Susan was just trying to make sure her son, a gifted athlete and student, would do the best he could in life. However, the strict household caused Drake to act out and feel suffocated. Susan couldn't control Drake anymore. Worried for his future and that his behaviors would only become more extreme, she thought shelter was the last option for their family, and for Drake to get the support he needed.

"They needed to vent and share their feelings to each other. They both had a lot they were holding onto. My office is a space for families to express their feelings and begin a conversation that ends with getting the families connected with services to help them thrive in their own homes," says Jen.

Jen was able to help Susan and Drake see that shelter wasn't needed; rather, the family needed to talk to each other more and learn to express what they were feeling instead of bottling up their emotions until they came out in unhealthy ways. After an hour in Jen's office, the family left with a scheduled family therapy session for later in the week through YESS' Hope Hall Counseling Department. Susan and Drake realized they both had some work to do but were committed to changing in order to better their relationship and strengthen the family.

"By the time they left, we all were in tears. They were so grateful for someone to listen to them and help them see alternatives to a shelter stay. The mom thanked YESS for opening her eyes to a different world. A week later, I followed up with them, they said the first family session went great and had scheduled additional sessions as well as getting Drake started with individual therapy. Many times, people think of YESS as just an emergency shelter, but we are trying to do so much more to keep the kids in their own home so shelter doesn't have to be the option."

Jen works with families to help them connect with resources to get back on track. She works with walk-in families at some of their lowest times and in the height of crisis, but she wants families to know there is support before they hit the breaking point. Through community presentations, meeting with school administrators, and local community groups, Jen shares the programs YESS offers in hopes that more families get connected to preventative services sooner.

If you know a group that would benefit from hearing Jen speak or know a family who could use some support, connect with Jen by calling 515-282-9377.

*Names and identifying characteristics changed to protect client confidentiality.
Volunteer Spotlight: Melissa Hofmann
After six years volunteering with YESS, Melissa says her outlook has changed. "I don't need to make a personal impact each and every time I'm there. I just want to be a small part of what YESS is doing to help our community." And that mindset has kept her coming back and wanting to give back to YESS and all the kids who find safety under our roof.

During her years of volunteer service, Melissa has coordinated multiple volunteer opportunities for her ITA Group colleagues to engage with YESS’ mission, ranging from wrapping gifts at the holidays to organizing in-kind donations and hanging out with the kids. Personally, Melissa spends a night every other week with the littlest ones YESS cares for in the Blumenthal Crisis Nursery, holding babies, reading bedtime stores, and sharing dinner time meals. YESS is always top of mind for Melissa, as we frequently get in-kind support and volunteer referrals because “Melissa recommended you”.

"When I first started volunteering, I'd leave crying every single time. I had a beautiful childhood and never worried about what tomorrow looked like. I don't ask why a child is at YESS, I don't need to know. But I work to be present and in the moment with them every time I'm there. I enjoy talking to the kids and the staff and they make me leave feeling appreciated," says Melissa.

"I love knowing I might make it a little easier for the staff that night, whether it is allowing them to get paperwork done or spend a little extra one-on-one time with another child. The kids make me want to come back. They make my heart so full. The kids are safe and I am so thankful that a place like YESS exists. I might not make a personal difference with each resident, but if I can help make a staff member's shift easier or just be a part of YESS' mission, that is where I fill my own bucket."

Jana Daisy, Community Activities Manager, added "Melissa is simply the best! Her flexibility and dedication to the agency is so appreciated. She understands that caring for up to 56 kids every day can make for some unpredictable moments, and she rolls with any last-minute changes. Melissa is on a short list of volunteers we call when we have special needs to be filled on short notice, and she comes through for us and the kids time after time. Melissa embodies YESS’ organizational values of compassion, safety, teamwork, and trust, and we are honored to have her as a valued member of Team YESS!"

If you want to be a part of Team YESS as a volunteer, contact Jana Daisy for more information.
Say YESS to Summer!
With up to 56 kids under YESS' roof each day, summer is a big deal! Keeping the kids active making sure they are exposed to typical summer activities is extremely important to YESS' staff. Days involve trips to the nearby splash pad, getting ice cream, going to the Science Center, or catching a baseball game. Volunteers spend time almost daily with kids on the units, bringing activities or helping with library time. Summer is a fun time to relax and unwind before preparing for the next school year.
Thanks to our friends at the Des Moines Police Department, a group of pre-teen boys recently took a tour of the Des Moines police station.

"The boys had so much fun. The officer showed them their protective equipment and the inside of an armored car. They thought it was the coolest thing, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the kids now want to be police officers when they grow up," said Matt A., YESS' Education Specialist. "It's always fun to get the kids outside of the building, whether it is field trips or going to a Farmers' Market or local park. It mixes things up and gives the kids different experiences."
The kids also had their summer space-themed Talent Show thanks to Eden F., YESS' Music Therapist, and Lindi M., YESS' Artist-in-Residence, along with other talented staff who worked with the kids to show their "out of this world" talents. The love and support in the gym was contagious as kids stepped up to preform songs they worked on, dances they perfected, and told a few jokes; one girl even wrote and performed her own song - such bravery! The audience cheered on the performers, creating a safe space for encouragement. The gym felt like a true community, and it was amazing to see how much the hard work of Team YESS paid off as the kids took bows with huge smiles on their faces to their well-deserved applause.
All the fun activities, field trips, and outings are made possible because of caring individuals who donate passes to the Science Center or tickets to baseball games. Even water balloons, sidewalk chalk, or food for a cook-out allow YESS to give the kids under our roof a summer they deserve.

Will you say YESS to summer? Check out the wish list we've created, or contact Jana Daisy for more ideas to support the kids at YESS this summer.
Team YESS Shout Out: Bank of America

YESS is incredibly thankful for the continued support of Bank of America as we work to protect children and empower families in our community.

Bank of America's $10,000 Basic Needs grant directly supports kids who find safety and care in YESS' Emergency Shelter & Blumenthal Crisis Nursery. Beyond financial support, local Bank of America employees are also active volunteers and participate in YESS' annual Human Foosball Tournament each fall.

Bank of America has invested significant resources into strengthening our local communities, and we are proud to have them as trusted members of Team YESS!
Support YESS through upcoming
community events!
  • Have a "Cajun" good time at Cajun Fest 2019 on Sat., June 22. Enjoy a traditional southern boil while supporting kids! A portion of the proceeds will be donated back to YESS.

  • Windsor Heights Hy-Vee is hosting its Kids Day & Toy Drive on Sat., June 22, 10:00am - 1:00pm. They'll have games, coloring, and special guests, Misfit Studios. In addition, donations of new kids games and activities for YESS will be collected. Need ideas? Check out the summer wish list above!

  • Break the Cycle 200 will once again be biking through Iowa to raise funds to support victims of human trafficking, June 27-28.
Team YESS is Hiring

When you join YESS, you aren't just taking a job, you're becoming part of a team. A team that is committed to making the community a better place by protecting children and empowering families.

Do you or someone you know want to make a difference in the community and help kids build brighter futures? Join Team YESS today!
918 SE 11th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 | 515.282.9377 | YESSIowa.org