One of the groups First Presbyterian has supported here in Marshalltown is our local Youth and Shelter Services (YSS). YSS works throughout Iowa and provides a wide variety of resources to youth and young people and are working to expand the resources available in Marshalltown.
One of their greatest success stories has been the Marshalltown Police and Community Team (MPACT). Through this program, YSS has partnered with the police department to address the numerous non-criminal calls fielded by law enforcement. Now, if the police are called for a mental or behavioral health issue a police officer will arrive and assess the situation. If appropriate and safe they will then call in a Community Advocate who will take over and help to resolve the situation while allowing the police officer to respond to other calls. The Community Advocates can do an assessment and make recommendations for how to move forward and connect individuals with the right resources. They can also follow up and check that those who need help have gotten it.
YSS also does many other things. They provide a variety of types of counseling including equine therapy and art therapy. They have rapid re-housing apartments for youth as they work to obtain stable employment and achieve self-sufficiency. YSS also works with youth who are aging out of foster care and need a safe place to live and a hand figuring out what is next for them. They also have a Post-secondary Education Retention Program which supports young adults in their efforts to earn a college degree or trade certificate.
This is only a small portion of the many things they are doing in Marshalltown and throughout Iowa. If you are interested in supporting their work or learning about the many other things they do, check out their website: https://www.yss.org/
I asked recently how we could support their work. They listed:
Volunteering – they can use people to mentor and connect with youth, but also to sort through donated goods.
Donations – of course they can use monetary donations, but they also need things “like what you would give someone who was getting their first apartment or going off to college” such as: bedsheets, towels, fan, soap and shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, nail clippers, pillows, first aid kit, etc. Additionally, they often hand out small bags of essentials to homeless youth with things like shelf stable food, soap and shampoo, wash cloth, socks, gloves, hats, etc.
We also talked about some bigger opportunities our church might join in the future. Stay tuned for those opportunities!