To the Editor:

Youth and Shelter Services, Inc. (YSS) could not fulfill its mission and promise without the generous support of United Way of Story County. These are times of extreme challenges for many local families and I’d like to share just one story of a young person who benefited greatly from a YSS program funded by United Way.

"My mom is a meth addict, and I was taken away from home when I was 13. I did drugs, I had anorexia, and I was depressed and couldn’t handle being away from my mom.

When I was 16, I got into the YSS Host Home, where I finished my senior year of high school. Then, I got accepted to Iowa State University and went there until I got pregnant and had my baby. However, I was in an abusive relationship with my daughter’s father. I didn’t want to leave, and I kind of took some steps backwards. So I connected with YSS again. Earlier, I had been involved with the YSS Foster Care program, and now my worker got me involved with the Aftercare Program.

That’s the great thing about YSS - they treat you like family.

I have my own apartment now - a YSS Transitional Living apartment. My daughter turned two in February. I’m going to college, working and being a mom - just busy, busy. I wouldn’t have it any other way," Maranda said.

Since re-enrolling in the YSS Aftercare Program and YSS housing in October 2012, Maranda has obtained her Certified Nurses Aide certificate and has put a lot of effort into managing her mental health.

"I owe YSS so much. It’s just the little things they do. Asking if I need a ride here, do you need help getting groceries, do you have diapers - all that kind of stuff. Because of YSS, I can give my daughter Christmas presents, and I’m not just another statistic. I’m the first of my family to go to college, and I’m going to be the first one to graduate. I don’t want to be a single mom who just falls into the same patterns as my mom did. I’m a good mom, and I couldn’t have done it without YSS," Maranda said.

Maranda has recently transitioned out of YSS housing and has been accepted by Northwestern College in Minnesota. She began classes in August.

Maranda’s story is just one example of how YSS services can help youths to make positive changes in their lives, thanks to the support of United Way. Thanks again to the Story County community for its support of United Way. It helps to ensure that YSS can continue to provide a wide range of services to children and youths to help them to heal, grow strong and live fruitful and healthy lives

Sincerely,

Dr. George Belitsos

CEO

Youth & Shelter Services, Inc.

420 Kellogg Ave.

Ames, IA 50010

515-233-3141