When you walk into the Northeast Youth and Family Services (NYFS) building in Shoreview, you see a sign that reads, “Transforming lives by ensuring access to care that nurtures healing, cultivates community, and inspires hope.”
That is the new mission statement of NYFS.
“We've refreshed our organizational mission, vision and values over the last maybe six months or so,” said Angela Lewis-Dmello, president and CEO. “We have a new logo and we're very proud of all of our new branding stuff.”
According to Lewis-Dmello, the vision at NYFS is a world where thriving individuals and families are the building blocks of safe, unified communities established through a network of empowered and collaborative partnerships.
The values at NYFS are as follows:
• Equity, inclusion and belonging
• Community driven
• Transformative relationships
“Our new values drive everything we do at NYFS,” Lewis-Dmello said. “Our goal is to ensure that the values are lived every day by our budget, by our decision making, by our staff and the way that we provide services.”
The community-based, trauma-informed, mental health and human services nonprofit organization has been serving the communities of suburban Ramsey County since 1976. NYFS also has an outpatient clinic in White Bear Lake.
Lewis-Dmello said NYFS has been designing trauma-informed spaces so people with trauma will have as few triggers as possible when they walk through the door.
“We've painted everything in trauma-informed colors and making sure that the colors are warm, that they're light and that it feels not 'clinical,'” she said. “We're also working on revising our artwork throughout our spaces.”
NYFS did a survey assessment with its clients to determine experiences of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“What we found was that 75% of our clients reported domestic violence or sexual violence in their lifetime, and that doesn't include physical abuse, neglect or substance use in the home and all of the other things that affect child development,” Lewis-Dmello said. “We work a lot with those individuals and their families because we really see family intervention as one of the most effective ways to help people heal with mental health concerns, especially when they're embedded in the family system.”
Services at NYFS include clinic-based and telehealth counseling for all ages, school-based services,
day treatment services for middle and high school youth, diversion programming for youth, community connections programming for isolated youth and community advocate services.
Youth diversion is a program for youth who are charged with a misdemeanor and status offenses such as theft and alcohol or drug use. They can use this program as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system to rebuild their lives and get back on track.
Lewis-Dmello described the community connections program as an outgrowth of the youth diversion services.
“It was started through youth focus groups that we were serving, and we asked them what they really want,” Lewis-Dmello said. “And they said, 'We would like to be able to go to the library and feel like that's a place where we belong. We'd like to think about what kinds of jobs we might want and plan for what the budget would look like if we had that job and had to pay our bills.'”
In the community advocacy program, an advocate works with five police departments — White Bear Lake, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville and St. Anthony — to create public safety.
“The goal is for us to provide services that are outside of the scope of law enforcement, and that can be crisis intervention, mental health intervention, case management, housing or whatever folks need in order to reduce the number of contacts individuals have with law enforcement, when what they really need is something else,” Lewis-Dmello said.
According to Mental Health Director Sarah Lockhart, NYFS does art and play therapy because there are a lot of youth who do not have words for their experiences based on their diagnosis. “Maybe they don't feel ready to verbally process or maybe it's not at their stage of social emotional development to be able to process verbally their experiences of trauma,” Lockhart said.
NYFS serves four school districts — Mounds View, White Bear Lake, Roseville and St. Anthony-New Brighton.
“We take an embedded model when it comes to our school-based therapy program,” Lockhart said. “We don't think of it as an outpatient clinic that's just sitting in the school. We really believe that the schools and the school districts are also our partners and our clients, and we try to make sure that there's time built into their schedules for consultations with principals to provide training to the staff on mental health and to take walk-ins if needed so that we can get the appropriate services and referrals for a child.”
NYFS offers services for all economic situations and is supported by 17 local municipalities, including Shoreview, Hugo, White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, North Oaks, Mounds View, Birchwood Heights, Mahtomedi and Vadnais Heights.
“One of the really cool things about having these relationships with municipalities is it allows us to be very community driven," Lewis-Dmello said. “The municipalities usually put one individual on our board of directors and so our board is largely city officials or City Council members.”
Support from NYFS's municipal partners and donations from community stakeholders allow NYFS to remove financial barriers and provide services to many who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford this help.
“Those who need our services can come to us even if they can't afford our services,” said Amelia Maijala, development and communications manager. “That is what we've done, from depression and anxiety to the most common reasons people come in for care. We don't want your anxiety over how you're going to pay for the next visit to treat your anxiety to be part of the problem.”
To learn more about NYFS, go to https://www.nyfs.org/.
Shoreview Press Editor Noelle Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-407-1229.
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