Family Services celebrates 30 years |

Family Services celebrates 30 years

Tahoe Youth & Family Services is celebrating our 30th anniversary of providing services to the South Lake Tahoe community. On Oct. 18 the agency will be hosting a celebration event at Embassy Suites, Stateline, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The celebration will be moderated by former employee and executive director Gerry Orton. The evening will be filled with a bit of history of the agency, introduction of agency board members and staff, and an overview of current programs. If Tahoe Youth & Family Services has helped you or someone you care about, please join us and celebrate our 30th anniversary.

Recently, I saw down with Gerry Orton to uncover the history of Tahoe Youth & Family Services and it was refreshing. to discover that in 31 years neither our mission or services have really changed. Since the agency was created we have helped more than 20,000 youth in the community and runaways from outside the area.

Tahoe Youth and Family Services was created in 1971 as a community response to the number of adolescents killed due to overdosing on drugs. The original name of the agency was Awakening Peace, which was a drop-in center for teens to hang out and receive drug diversion services. In the mid-1970s, the staff of Awakening Peace noticed a trend in the increase of runaway youth, and being the visionaries that they were, the staff applied for federal money from the Department of Health Education & Welfare for runaway youth. The agency was one of 50 demonstration projects in the United States. The goal of the project was to provide shelter to runaway and homeless youth. However, the agency created a vision that family reunification was the more practical solution. Tahoe Youth & Family Services still received money from the Runaway Homeless Act of 1976, and our philosophy remains the same. The agency provides family reunification services, attempting to keep youth out of more costly systems of care, such as mental health, juvenile justice and child welfare systems. In 1981 the agency changed its name to Tahoe Human Services, and in 1989 we changed names again and became Tahoe Youth & Family Services.

Tahoe Youth & Family Services mission is “To promote the healthy development of the children, youth and families of the South Lake Tahoe community through counseling, education and support” and our vision is building a community that takes care of its children. Currently, the agency supports these values by providing individual, family and group counseling to children and their families. Our programs include substance abuse interventions and treatment for substance using youth; participation in the South Lake Tahoe Juvenile Drug Court program TREC (the South Lake Tahoe probation school) and the Young Parents Program; services at South Tahoe Middle and High schools; support groups of the Boys & Girls Club; parenting classes; anger management classes for youth; play therapy; and the Mentors Plus Program at South Tahoe Middle School, which will soon be offered at Al Tahoe and Bijou Elementary schools.

If you are interested in helping the youth of our community, Tahoe Youth & Family Services always needs volunteers and donations. Call (530) 541-2445 or visit our Web site at to learn more about opportunities.

Nichole Loftis is executive director of Tahoe Youth & Family Services.

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