March 30, 2017

Scheels Partners with YFS to Help Teach Girls Teamwork

On Wednesday, March 29 Scheels partnered with Youth & Family Services’ Girls Inc. of Rapid City and Fatherhood First programs to provide activities to girls that challenged them think creatively and work together to solve problems. Creativity is essential for academic, social, and emotional growth! Children who learn to be more creative become better problem solvers and are better able to adapt to and deal with change. Working together to solve problems bolsters children’s ability to communicate, develop self- confidence, and work toward common goals. Thank you, Scheels, for joining us to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold!  
September 30, 2016

Beloved YFS Employee Retires After 30 Years At YFS

Since 1965, Youth & Family Services (YFS) has provided high-quality programming and services to children and families in western South Dakota, due in large part to employees who are committed to professional excellence. This past Friday, September 30, YFS recognized Judy Burgess as she retired from the agency after more than 30 years of service. Judy Burgess started her career as Executive Administrative Assistant at Youth & Family Services in February of 1986. For three decades, Judy has worked hand-in-hand with YFS’ Chief Executive Officer, its Senior Administration, the agency’s board members, and other staff to help improve the lives of children and families in her community. While Judy has been instrumental in the development of several signature YFS events, she is most notably famous for providing her melt-in-your-mouth cookie recipe to YFS and helping the agency start its Valentine Cookie Project in 1998. The idea for the cookie project came as a way to provide YFS’ major contributors with a homemade, heartfelt thank you. Now every February, YFS uses Judy’s original sugar cookie recipe to bake, frost, and deliver more than 800 dozen cookies to its major donors. Judy still personally oversees the frosting and packaging of the cookies with her ever watchful eye. Susan Fedell, YFS’ Chief Executive Officer, says it has always been a joy to be around Judy and work with her. “Judy is a special woman who has committed more than 30 years to providing children, especially girls, with opportunities that help them reach their full potential and inspire them to dream beyond what they thought possible. We thank Judy for her dedication, enthusiasm, and giving spirit, and congratulate her as she enters the next phase of her life.” Although Judy will be retiring from her position at YFS on September 30, 2016, she will still play an important role within the agency as our goodwill ambassador, pastry chef, and volunteer. “We cherish Judy and look forward to working with her as she continues to support the YFS mission through her work on special event committees and other volunteer efforts,” Fedell stated.
August 29, 2016

Boys Health Program Takes On Mickelson Trail

On Friday, August 19, 15 boys enrolled in YFS’ Boys Health Program participated in a biking and camping trip on along the Mickelson Trail. “We filled our vehicles and trailers to capacity with bikes and tents,” stated Corey Kennedy, YFS Boys Health Program Advocate. The group’s journey began in Hill City. Although the day started out cool and rainy, the group rallied together and decided that they wouldn’t be delayed or detoured from their adventure. “We dropped of our camping gear and coolers at our desired camp site in Hill City and drove the lot and the bikes to Rochford to start the biking adventure,” Kennedy stated. As the group drove through the hills, the rain started to dissipate and the road began to dry up. “The great news was we could ride in the dry, cool weather without fear of exhaustion from heat.” The boys were full of anticipation and eagerness as the group began their trip. “The boys were all every excited since they’d never done anything like this before. Most of them had never even been to the Mickelson trail before.” As the boys, along with their advocates and supervisors, made their way along the trails, they were able to enjoy the majesty of the Black Hills. “The boys took all the sites in during the ride. They were so excited to see the different tunnels, bridges, animals, and views.” “We mastered the mechanical difficulty, physical fitness, and the cold outdoors to arrive at our camp site six hours later.” After the ride, the boys reveled in stories of what they had accomplished while the adults grilled hamburgers. “Camping was an added bonus to the end of the day, but the bike ride was the stuff of legends for these boys and I imagine it will be for the rest of their lives.”          
August 2, 2016

YFS Kicks Off Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Project

In September of 2015, Youth & Family Services (YFS) received a five-year grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance to implement a Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) project. As of July 1, 2016, the HMRE project is now providing services to members of the Rapid City community and surrounding area. “The Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education project focuses on strengthening families as a whole,” stated Curt Lauinger, HMRE Project Manager. The HMRE project will allow YFS to reach out to all families and high school youth in Rapid City and the surrounding area with curriculum, strategies, and activities that will support healthy marriages, relationships, and families. “Some of the services we’ll be providing to families include intensive case management, relationship classes, assistance with making and attending appointments, employment and resume coaching, and mentoring,” Lauinger noted. “In addition, we’ll be working to prepare the next generation for healthy relationships by offering practical relationship skills classes to high school students on topics including: communication, managing money, resolving differences respectfully, setting life goals, anger management, and responsible planning. Our goal is to prepare teens/young adults for healthy, happy relationships throughout their lives.” In addition, YFS’ Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education project will help participants develop the skills necessary to build strong relationships and increase their trajectory toward economic stability, mobility, and employability. “We’re excited to be able to support clients with their job search and/or exploration of educational opportunities to improve their income and job security. We believe reducing income stressors will benefit the entire family.” The HMRE project will be implemented in a seven-county geographic area in south western South Dakota where YFS has a presence through its Prenatal to Five Head Start program, Counseling Center, and Youth Trauma Center. These counties include: Custer, Fall River, Haakon, Jackson, Lawrence, Meade, and Pennington counties.  For more information on HMRE services, please call (605) 791-5025.
July 26, 2016

Boys Health Program Members Participate in Creek Freak Project

During the past month, boys, ages 5-17, enrolled in YFS’ Boys Health Program have been focusing on conservation by participating in a fun, hands-on program called Creek Freaks! The Creek Freak curriculum encourages kids to venture outside to explore local streams and learn how healthy trees, shrubs, and grasses protect clean water and wildlife. The program also helps inspire youth to become more conscious and considerate of nature within their local communities. The Boys Health Program members began their Creek Freak adventure by discussing the main source of natural water in the Rapid City area, Rapid Creek. The big question the boys focused on answering was if the water that flowed from the lakes through Rapid Creek is clean enough to drink. To try and answer this question, the boys studied the water in a variety of locations, beginning at Pactola Reservoir and ending near Sioux Park in Rapid City. The boys and their guides waded into the water and used screens to collect samples from the creek bed. On more than one occasion, the boys found invertebrates! In addition, they collected soil samples and made notes on the nearby vegetation in each location. Once specimens had been collected, the boys were given the opportunity to run their own tests. With the help of their guides, the boys were able to examine the water’s metal content and check the pH levels of the water. Based on the outcomes of their tests, the boys’ hypothesized that the water could be clean enough to drink near their starting point, but undrinkable throughout the rest of the creek. Boys Health Program Advocate, Corey Kennedy stated, “Everyone involved with the project, from the boys to the facilitators, really enjoyed this experience. This project was a successful way to get our boys active outdoors while having fun and participating in educational programming. We support conservation and our fabulous Black Hills area and look forward to many more outdoor projects in the future.”    
July 15, 2016

Girls Inc. Receives Gift From Black Hills Community Bank Program

Black Hills Community Bank is encouraging its employees to support local non-profit organizations! On Wednesday, July 13, Leslie Rodriguez, a Credit Analyst from Black Hills Community Bank, donated $1,000 to Youth & Family Services Girls Inc. of Rapid City through the bank’s Pass It On program. Under the bank’s Pass It On program, qualifying employees are awarded $1,000 to contribute to a local Black Hills community non-profit organization. The bank’s employees become ambassadors for the bank with their gift. Since Pass It On was originated in 2010, more than $114,000 has been donated by Community Bankers. This is the second year in a row that Leslie has chosen to donate her Pass It On funds to YFS Girls Inc. “I originally thought of Girls Inc. because my daughter goes there. It’s just an awesome program and my daughter really loves it. I thought it would be nice to be able to support the other girls who attend the program,” stated Leslie. Leslie has also supported Youth & Family Services through volunteerism.
May 23, 2016

YFS Gears Up For Summer Food Program

For many children in our community, summer is the time for fun activities, spending time with friends and family, and taking a break from classroom work. Unfortunately for children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals, summer can be a difficult and stressful time. Many families struggle to cover the extra cost of food and often times must go without the nutritious meals they need. In order to help ensure that children in our community have access to healthy meals during the summer months, Youth & Family Services is once again sponsoring the Summer Food Program. This program allows YFS to provide free breakfasts and lunches, Monday through Friday, to any children, ages 1-18. During the summer or 2015, YFS was able to provide 32,113 free breakfasts and lunches to children in our community. This year’s YFS Summer Food Program will be hosted at two sites in Rapid City: YFS Rapid City Head Start 410 E. Monroe Street May 25 – August 19, 2016 Breakfast: 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Mother Butler Center 231 Knollwood Drive May 25 – August 26, 2016 Lunch Only: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Registration for this program is not required and accompanying adults may also eat for a fee of $2.50. The Summer Food Program is program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
May 9, 2016

Glow Run Raises Funds for Girls Inc. Operation SMART

Participants of the first ever Steminist Star 5K Glow Walk/Run lit up the bike path in Rapid City the evening of April 16, 2016! This inaugural event was hosted by SDSM&T’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program as well as the Alpha Omega Epsilon sorority. Proceeds from this fun, florescent fundraising event were donated to Youth & Family Services Girls Inc. The walk/run was indeed a success as dozens of community members and students arrived at Main Street Square in their glow gear, ready to exercise with their friends and family for a great cause. The race began and ended near the Memorial Park Promenade. Once participants finished the route, they moved to Main Street Square where music, dance performances, and a food truck awaited them. Door prizes were also given away to several lucky winners! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ On April 27, event organizers as well as Dr. Wilson, President of SDSM&T, presented YFS staff with the proceeds from the event– a check for $1,972.00. These funds will be used to support YFS Girls Inc.’s Operation SMART program. Girls Inc. Developed Operation SMART (Science, Math and Relevant Technology) on a national level in the mid-1980s in response to the shortage of women entering careers in scientific, mathematical, engineering and technical fields. YFS thanks the Women in Science and Engineering program, the Alpha Omega Epsilon sorority, and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology for their support of YFS Girls Inc. and their assistance in promoting science and math related fields to young girls in our community. Pictured above, from left to right: Lisa Carlson, WiSE Program Director; Vanessa Gomez, Alpha Omega Epsilon sorority; Sarah Folsland, WiSE Program Coordinator; Carrie Robley, YFS Girls Inc. Director; David Miller, YFS Associate Executive Director; Darcie Decker, YFS Community Outreach Director; Dr. Heather Wilson, SDSM&T President.
April 20, 2016

YFS Staff Recognized

Two YFS staff members, Heather Tromp and Jodi Burk, were recognized on Tuesday, April 19 at this year’s Western South Dakota Child Protection Council Luncheon for their commitment to improving the lives of children throughout western South Dakota. Congratulations Heather and Jodi! We appreciate all you do for the children in our community! About Heather: Heather Tromp became licensed as a foster parent when she resided in Arizona and Texas in 2001. Heather and Ian celebrated the adoptions of their son Michael in 2006 and Christopher in 2007. Heather moved to South Dakota and became licensed with the department of Social Services in September of 2007. Heather has since welcomed 38 children into her home and provided respite care for six children.  In 2011, Heather adopter her son Evan. She celebrated the adoption of her son Dante in 2013. About Jodi: Jodi Burke has been a licensed, certified social worker and private independent practitioner at Youth & Family Services for the past four year. Prior to coming to YFS, she spent seven years as a certified social worker in treatment foster care at LSS and four years working in an orphanage in an independent additions counseling in Mongolia. Jodi received her bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in social work from Colorado State University. She is certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and trained in child family traumatic stress intervention. She is currently working on a license in addiction counseling and is also a Reiki Master. Jodi served on the Western South Dakota Child Protection Council from 2055 – 2011 and is now an honorary member. Jodi is married to Shawn and together they have two children.