Editor’s Note: Our Chive On Iowa chapter is nothing short of stellar. The sheer volume of local charities y’all support has blown us away and we wanted the Chivers to know that it was Iowa Chive’s generosity who inspired this story and donation. We’ll be there for an official chive meetup soon.
In the nursery at Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS) Iowa, an 8-month-old baby girl was crying uncontrollably. Nobody could get her to stop. The infant was brought to YESS Iowa because her mother had mental health issues. She was about to lose her house. The baby needed to be somewhere safe. As the Development Manager for YESS Iowa, Kristen Huinker is used to seeing children in distress. She lifted the baby girl and tried holding her tight. At first, it wasn’t making a difference, but the little girl fell asleep after almost 2 hours. Kristen remembers how tired her arms were after that. She continued to visit the baby, and after a couple days the girl started to feel safe and began smiling at staff. The experience reminded Kristen why she entered this rewarding field. This might seem like an intense situation, but the dedicated staff at YESS Iowa go above and beyond to support troubled youth every day.
YESS had a humble beginning as a drop-in center for runaway teens in 1973. It wasn’t long before the program expanded into an emergency shelter. It has since grown into the largest youth emergency shelter in the state of Iowa, helping over 1,200 kids each year, ranging from newborns to age 17. YESS provides a safe place for children in need.
They help children with different levels of need. Some of these kids have been physically and sexually abused. Some have run away from home, usually to escape a bad environment. Some are having issues with alcohol and substance abuse. Some may be struggling at school because of troubles at home. Some are placed in the care of YESS if their caregiver can’t take care of them due to incarceration, emergency hospitalization, or worse. But all of these kids need someone to believe in them, take care of them, and help them work through their issues.
YESS prides itself as being more than just a shelter. It is a “one stop shop,” offering a comprehensive support and treatment program. They have the only site-based, 24-hour emergency shelter for newborns, toddlers, and young children in Iowa. It’s a safe place where children receive education, counseling, medical care, and case management. They stay as long as they need to and when they leave, they are completely transformed.