Youth Eastside Services Celebrates Founders and More
Youth Eastside Services (YES), formerly known as “Heads Up,” officially turned 45 on Nov. 1 and threw quite a celebration. The event, which took place in YES’ main office in Bellevue, specifically recognized the early founders whose foresight created an organization that to this day serves as a lifeline for kids experiencing emotional distress and substance abuse.
Among the more than 140 guests in attendance at the Founders Day Celebration were early founders, volunteers and staff who joyously greeted each other and remembered the work they did years ago on behalf of kids and their families.
Dr. Lee Vincent, the first signer on the organization’s articles of incorporation, remembered the early days when a concerned group of citizens gathered in the basement of the First Congregational Church in Lake Hills to start Heads Up, which later became Youth Eastside Services. He recalled the “Flyers” who were a team of mostly medical doctors who would rush out to help teens who had overdosed or who were “having a bad trip.” Vincent is also a founder of Pediatric Associates, one of the largest pediatric practices in the region.
YES Executive Director Patti Skelton-McGougan related a story from Dr. Phil Nudelman, a founder who later went on to become CEO of Group Health. As a young pharmacist in the late 1960s, Nudelman frequently fielded questions from teens about the many drugs that were being used at the time. He helped start Heads Up when a young kid asked him how he could get peanut butter into a syringe so he could inject it because ’he heard it was a good high.’
Bob Watt, who started with YES in 1972 as the Heads Up director and served as executive director between 1978 and 1984, reflected on the thousands of kids who had been helped by a team of a few staff and hundreds of volunteers. “The volunteers were mostly women, many who had raised their own families. They would spend hours listening to kids and helped just by being there and caring.” Watt later became Deputy Mayor of Seattle under Norm Rice as well as the Executive Director of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
“So many of our founders became significant people in the landscape of our area,” noted Skelton-McGougan as she remembered YES founder George Whitman, a Deputy Chief with the Bellevue Police Department who died in October.
One of two former clients who spoke mesmerized the room with her story of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and how YES had helped her become healthy and confident. Today she is happily married, a small business owner and the mother of her own young daughter.
The other client speaker was a young man who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. “Before I came to YES, I spent most of the previous year drunk or high. Today, I am 12 years sober.” This speaker was also recently named one of the 30 best realtors under 30 in the entire country.
In the subsequent 45 years since its founding, YES has developed into a premier provider of prevention and treatment services for Eastside youth and their families.
“YES continues to develop new and critical services to fill gaps for kids and families coping with tremendous challenges,” said Skelton-McGougan. “We started with the support of the community, and we continue to be able to do what we do because of community support.”
YES Board of Trustees President Jennifer Ivan stated, “The community as a whole is a better place because, over the last 45 years, thousands of youth have avoided or overcome emotional distress, substance abuse and violence as a result of their involvement with YES. Today’s board members work hard to fulfill the vision of the early founders.”
Pediatric Associates sponsored the Founders Day event. “Dr. Lee Vincent is our Senior Partner and a YES founder,” shared Glenn Lux, president and chief executive officer. “He and his wife Ann were one of the four couples who, in the 1960s gathered to plan the founding of this organization, and volunteered their time to make it run. By continuing to support what YES does for the youth of the Eastside, we honor both Ann and Lee.” Dr. Lorena Shih physician and medical director for the Bellevue office of Pediatric Associates, currently serves on the YES board, following in the footsteps of Dr. Vincent
Those who couldn’t make the event are encouraged to submit a story of their early involvement with YES or make a donation at www.YouthEastsideServices.org. Donations may be made in honor or memory of someone who made a difference during YES’ first 45 years.
Photo Credit: Baker Rawlings of Depth of Field Photography.