Letter to the Editor: Please Support Edmonds' Jeremiah Center

The nonprofit center for youth, which includes Kazba, hopes to return after being forced to close.

In 2005 a vision sparked by the youth of south Snohomish County was turned into a reality through programs largely funded with the very generous space, financial, and in–kind donations provided by the Edmonds Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran Church congregations.

As a result of these efforts, over the past seven years Jeremiah Center for Youth Services (JCYS) in Edmonds has been providing, free of charge to community youth ages 13-21, needed afterschool and mental health counseling services.

That is, until this past August when services were suspended. Not because of lack of need, nor due to lack of interest by the youth. In fact, youth had been consistently attending the Center’s afterschool program, called the Kazba, until operations needed to be suspended last June.

Most notably, JCYS made very important strides in establishing a close working relationship with the Edmonds School District and as a result the number of youth receiving mental health services far exceeded last year’s numbers.

So, given the critical need for continued youth services in our region and the strong demand for these services, it is important for us to share with our community the two primary reasons why JCYS recently suspended operations.

First, faced with the ever-tightening economy, congregational donations have diminished. Second, the Edmonds Five Corners location where JCYS had been operating for the past eight years was sold.

While donations and funding from the community continued to be received, including support from Unitarian Universalist Church and Verdant Health Commission, given that Edmonds Lutheran had provided this space free of charge, including utilities, the Center simply did not have enough money to sustain our youth programs.

The board of JCYS, along with the understanding of some of its greatest supporters, made the difficult decision to suspend operation of the Center.

Now, here is the tough part. There is a lack of free youth development services in South Snohomish County at a time when our youth need these services the most—to support and supplement their academic achievement and growth.

So the JCYS board, along with Edmonds Lutheran, have committed to doing something about that. To bring these critically needed youth services back into our communities.

But we cannot do this without the full engagement of our community. Our residents, businesses, civic organizations, government leaders, schools, the faith based community, and of course our youth. We will soon embark on a process to begin developing a strategic plan which will lay out the timeline, goals, and events needed to get us to a relaunch of the Center.

We ask for your commitment and support in bringing needed youth development services back into our community—including after school programming, social services, and life skills based programs and opportunities.  We are reaching out to you to ask for your input into the planning process.

If our efforts are going to be successful and sustainable for the long term, then community involvement and ownership in this process is essential. We also will be seeking new board members who can contribute their time and expertise in leading our Center forward. And of course, we will be looking for financial support through donations and gifts to fund the Center.

Please visit our Web site, www.jeremiahcenter.org, for additional information. If you wish to obtain more information about our planning process or would like to join the board, please send an email to contact@jeremiahcenter.org.

Finally, you may make a financial donation using our website donation portal or by sending a check to JCYS, PO Box 395, Lynnwood, WA 98046.

Wayne Steele
Chair, Jeremiah Center for Youth Services   

Julie Josund           
Pastor, Edmonds Lutheran Church


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