A Brief History of VYFS

by Marian Fitch

In early June 1977, Stephanie Smith gathered together a small group of community activists—including Edith Aspiri, Marian Fitch, and Jim Griswold—to examine the growing need for services to Vashon Island teens and other youngsters. Inspired by her work at the Kent Youth Services, Stephanie Smith was enthusiastic about beginning a similar organization on Vashon.

Under the directorship of Stephanie, Project Intercept — as it was first called — began serving clients out of Stephanie’s home. In September 1977, the Intercept board obtained an initial grant of $7,500 from King County and the agency was moved to a house at Center where L.S. Cedar is now located. This original grant was stretched to last eighteen months.

Following Stephanie Smith, succeeding directors included Chuck Clay, Beth White Holmes, Jeannine Richards, Jim Carey, and Chris Bingham. During this time, the agency name was changed to Vashon Youth Services and, subsequently, Vashon Youth and Family Services. It relocated to offices at the Vashon Health Center site for several years, and, in 1986, through a federally funded King County Community Development Block Grant, the current building was built on Vashon High School grounds leased from the Vashon School District.

In 1999, due to the expansion of the agency’s programs and services, another King County Community Development Block Grant was awarded to Vashon Youth and Family Services to build an addition. This building has given the agency much needed additional space, as well as allowing room for continued growth.

Today, Vashon Youth and Family Services has expanded to additional locations, offering parent education classes and groups at the VYFS Family Place, and before and after school childcare at Chautauqua Elementary School. The main offices encompass counseling and case management services, as well as all administrative operations. Vashon Youth and Family Services is also represented at many Vashon Island community events, such as the annual Sheepdog Trials, Strawberry Festival, and more.