Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

March 2, 2004 > Youth and Family Services

Youth and Family Services

A World War I song, published in 1915, advises British soldiers to "pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile." In those days it wasn't easy advice to follow as casualties mounted and life has not become easier since then. Fortunately, our society has made great strides in recognizing the advantage of supportive management of problems rather than putting on a "brave face" and hiding behind excuses, while risking additional, and more severe troubles.

Youth and Family Services (YFS) has been a Fremont lifeline for children, couples and families for 30 years. An Open House on Thursday, March 11th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. will allow citizens to see what goes on here and dispel myths about the service. Located in the Family Resource Center on Liberty Street, a cheerful waiting room helps to lift moods and prepare for gentle and effective help. School "site" counseling is also available.

A common misconception is soon dispelled when visiting and discussing the role of YFS with Director of Human Services Department Suzanne Shenfil, Administrator Iris Preece and therapists, Deborah Scott, Marvin Bowerman and Margaret Rossoff. The therapists - there are nine Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) and one psychologist - at YFS also have private practices and do no less for their clients at YFS than in other settings. All payment at YFS is on a sliding scale, so everyone can take advantage of the service. Facilities are top rate too. YFS is offered by the City of Fremont for all of its citizens - this is not a poverty program!

Anyone who has raised kids (or been one for that matter), realizes that the task is not an easy one. When either the child or parent(s) need a helping hand, it can be found within these walls. Counseling sessions even extend to infants and toddlers. Margaret Rossoff, MA, MFT works with a program that can look for signs of distress or relieve parents of anxiety about their child. Even though verbal skills are minimal, the signs are there to someone trained in the field. Marvin Bowerman, MS, MFT works as a Truancy Intervention Counselor and can help school age children and adults find out what is at the root of the problems being presented.

The multicultural challenge in Fremont is being met by this group. Deborah says, "That's where empathy and building relationships comes in and we are all pretty good at that." Marvin agrees and notes that there are significant resources in their work at the center. "We have people who come in to seek help and we may have to bridge language and cultural issues. At times, I get up and go across the hall to Healthy Start and find someone to assist with language barriers." Iris says that some interns at YFS have multiple language skills and provide interpretation assistance Asked about the challenges and rewards, Deborah says that working in our community and in her profession is both challenging and an enriching experience.

Many clients come to the center to resolve a crisis - possibly four to five months - then may discontinue visits although some stay in touch for "tune ups." The key at YFS is the realization that dealing with people is not an exact science so the YFS staff often fosters relationships that may be renewed if a problem continues or a new issue arises.

This group of dedicated professionals are heavily involved with specific families, but also have developed a series of seminars that can reach out to the community at large. Marvin and Deborah hold a series of seminars that help parents and teens. The titles explain the scope of topics and are familiar to all families - Transitioning to Junior High (May), Strengthening Families (March) and Listening to Children (April). The Parent Project with instructors, Jean Arnett, MFT and Ron Arnett, a retired educator and police officer, has been meeting since the later part of February. For parents, these group meetings are a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and learn skills to reduce family conflicts.

To find out more information about these seminars, visit www.regerec.ci.fremont.ca.us or call (510) 574-2122. In the meantime, come by the Family Resource Center and find out how this service may benefit your family. For those who need help or would like to volunteer time, skills or funds to support this vital service, call the offices of YFS today or come by on Thursday, March 11th 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. to congratulate the City of Fremont for a job well done and meet the people who make this possible.

 
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