In 2004, a group of leaders in the community came together in a collaborative effort to assess and address the needs in a specific area in McHenry, IL. In addition to high crime rate, families in the area, due to language and economic barriers, found it challenging to access basic health, wellness, education and social service resources. As a result, this collaborative group predetermined that by providing a space to coordinate supportive and integrated services would best respond to these needs.
Within the first three years, the center helped students improve grades and residents reported feeling a greater sense of community. These efforts also lead to a decrease in criminal activities and law-enforcement involvement in the area.
YFC officially became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2009. By becoming an independent non-profit organization, YFC was able to continue to serve as a support system for the underserved population of McHenry County. While the primary focus revolved around having access to a safe environment and the need to increase resources in a specific area in McHenry, it became quite clear that a larger and broader scope of services was needed.
Shortly after the beginning of our after-school program, we realized there was a need to support the family as a whole and we by responded by creating our Adult program. We providing a variety of educational opportunities to improve knowledge of and ability to access community resources, develop parent and other essential skills, and increase their involvement in their children’s education.
In the past years, we have greatly increased our adult client involvement by providing opportunities to take on leadership roles and encourage our adult client’s to play an active role in the center’s program decision making and fundraising. In our effort to keep responding to the needs of the families, the incorporation of Navigation Services have been added to our programs. With the addition of this new service, we have been able to provide a more comprehensive support to the specific and non-traditional needs of the families.
As we have grown and expanded, we have continued to be dedicated to helping people help themselves through a variety of programs and services. The Center offers the following programs to primarily low income families to equip and empower them with education, tools and skills they need: the Youth After School and Summer program; the Adult Education program; and the Service Navigation program.
For over three years, YFC has expanded services county wide with our adult programming. More recently, the success and impact of our programs, has lead us to explore the possibility of duplicating our model and sharing our programs with our neighboring communities by having additional satellite locations in the near future.