BERLIN — Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) is in the midst of conducting its annual appeal, seeking contributions from area residents so the organization can continue to provide local services.
Development and Donor Relations Director Stefanie Gordy explained that the appeal plays a major role in providing WYFCS with enough funding to operate throughout the year.
“There is a common misconception that we are a county agency,” she said.
Gordy clarified that WYFCS is a “private, non-profit” organization and therefore relies primarily on donations from businesses and individuals, along with competing for government grants.
“Throughout the year, we constantly try to fundraise,” said Gordy.
Money raised by the appeal, which is a document briefly outlining the agency’s goals and distributed through the mail, will fuel WYFCS community aide programs.
The programs include a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program that is responsible for appointing a personal sponsor to children embroiled in family court cases and a Strengthening Adolescent Girls with Education and Support (SAGES) service that attempts to provide role models and support for young girls.
Additionally, WYFCS offers a summer camp and after-school program aimed specifically at Berlin youth as well as on-site family counseling. And, according to Gordy, one person might benefit from multiple services.
“A lot of our programs overlap,” she said.
Gordy outlined how someone using CASA or taking part in SAGES might also be eligible to join the Berlin summer camp or after-school program or any number of other crossovers. All in all, Gordy estimated roughly 2,800 young adults and families were helped by WYFCS last year. Still, she stressed that there is an “ongoing need” for the services her agency brings to the county.
According to Gordy, “all youth is at risk” to some degree, no matter where they live or their home situations. In that regard, WYFCS is designed as a safety net, maintained in large part by private donations.
Along with fundraisers, the annual appeal serves to locate interested donors in the community. Money collected through the appeal can be earmarked for a specific program like CASA or SAGES or be donated openly for use in whichever area WYFCS believes needs it the most.
The money will be used to continue or expand current programs as well as potentially founding new ones. In the near future, Gordy expressed a desire to see a male counterpart to the popular SAGES group initiated at WYFCS.
“That is the natural progression of that program,” she said.
Gordy reminded potential contributors that, unlike some programs in the area, WYFCS conducts nearly all of its business in the county, providing more focused attention than many state or national organizations.
“The money can stay in the community, in your backyard,” said Gordy.
One final note made by Gordy is that donations are both tax deductible and can be made in recognition of another.
“We can do it in memory or in honor of someone,” she said.
The annual appeal has already been mailed out to past contributors to WYFCS as well as others who have expressed interest in the past. For those who haven’t received an appeal but are interested in learning more about or donating to WYFCS, call 410-641-4598 for the Berlin office or 410-957-6550 for the Pocomoke location.