Youth & Shelter Services, Inc.

Our History



The headquarters of YSS, the Richard O. Jacobson Youth & Family Center, located at 420 Kellogg Ave., Ames, Iowa 50010


Following is a brief history of over three decades of YSS' committment to service to the youth and families of Iowa.



Bustopp drop-in center opened
Summerfest (youth organized annual celebration) began

Rosedale Shelter opened (first runaway shelter facility in the State of Iowa)
Substance abuse intervention services began

Family Foster Care services began

Youth and Shelter Services became incorporated as a nonprofit, private agency
YSS was founded by its current CEO, George Belitsos, and a small group of ISU students and faculty

Youth House opened (Later named Youth Recovery House)

Prevention/Education Branch opened
CEO George Belitsos recognized as National Leader in Youth Serving Agencies by President Carter

Youth Recovery House opened
Family House (outpatient counseling) opened
Community-Based Centers established and Boone County Youth & Family Counseling Center opened.

First Lady Nancy Reagan visited YSS
Hamilton County Youth & Family Center opened

CIRCLE Youth Employment Program opened
Marshall County Youth, Runaway & Family Services opened

Seven-12 House opened
YSS Foundation incorporated
Polk County (Iowa Homeless Youth Centers) opened

Youth Service Bureau of Eastern Story County opened

Young Mom's Support Group began

Generation of Hope Campaign launched

Independent Living Program began
Intensive Supervision & In-Home Monitoring Program began

Pathways Center opened
Drug Czar William Bennett, Senators Grassley and Harkin and Representative Smith visited YSS

Transitional Living Program began
Iowa Homeless Youth Center opened new transitional living facility
Young Moms Host Home opened in Ames

Youth Service Bureau of Eastern Story County purchased new facility

Hold over program began
CARE (day & evening treatment) Program began
Seven-12 House closed due to bed cap

In-Home Counseling (Project Our Home) began in five locations

Healthy Futures (Prenatal care) Program began
New In-School Program opened in Greene County
Lighthouse Homeless Program began in Des Moines, Ames, Marshalltown, and Boone

Boone and Hamilton County Afterschool programs opened
Seven-12 House reopened
Young Moms Host Homes opened in Boone and Des Moines

Family Futures Network (day shelter program for homeless children in Des Moines) merged with YSS
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited YSS
Ames City Council selected YSS as successful bidder to purchase former Ames Municipal Building
Preserving the Past-Preparing for the Future $2.5 million Capital and Endowment Campaign launched
Hamilton County Youth and Family Center purchased new facility.

CIRCLE (Bottle and Can Redemption Center) is sold
Consolidated eight programs within the new Jacobson Youth and Family Center in Ames
Completed Capital and Endowment Campaign, $2.64 million raised

Adopted five-year 2003 strategic plan with paradigm shift from problem focused approach to Community Youth Development approach
Major expansion of Family Development program into five more counties
United Mentoring program established
Hamilton County Afterschool program picked up by schools
Boone County Youth and Family Counseling Center purchased Host Home

Adoption home studies and placement program begun
Iowa Community Youth Development Training Institute established
G.R.I.P. (Great Relationships In Pairs) Mentoring program begun in three central Iowa school systems
Mortgage burning held for the Richard O. Jacobson Center December 16, 1999

25th Anniversary Celebration (July 2000 through June 2001)
New Hope Transitional Living Center opened in Marshalltown
Kids Club Afterschool program opened in Collins/Maxwell, Gilbert, & Ballard schools

YSS forms a statewide collaborative Aftercare Services Network
with 10 human service agencies to provide aftercare to youth who age out of foster care

Family Futures Daycare Center in Des Moines closes
Kids Club in State Center and Roland-Story opens
Launched $1.5 million Endow the Future Campaign to strengthen the YSS Foundation Endowment

Downsized Seven-12/Youth Recovery House from 40 to 20 beds due to state budget cuts
Moved Chemical Dependency Outpatient program to Seven-12 House and closed Bandshell location in cost-saving measure

The $1.5 million Endow the Future Campaign was to have ended Dec. 31, 2005 with over $1.8 million raised

A $500,000 challenge grant is initiated by the Blank Foundation to be matched by 2007 for the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers
YSS celebrates its 30th anniversary June 1, 2006
YSS adopts Storks Nest program and locates at the YSS Young Parents Center

YSS is the proud sponsor of Culver-Judge Inauguration.
YSS of Hamilton County celebrates 25 years.
The first annual Reggie’s Sleep-Out is a huge success and raises over $100,000.
YSS celebrates 10 years at Jacobson Center and unveils a history plaque.
VEISHEA Project beautifies YSS with a huge mural.
YSS of Marshall County celebrates 25 years.
Senators Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton visit YSS and receive awards.

YSS becomes recipient of the Des Moines Register’s Aurora Award.
IHYC Endowment reaches $1 million goal.
YSS considers Capital Campaign to create a new Family Life Center.
YSS exceeds 7,000 youth served annually.

The YSS capital campaign to create the Richard O. Jacobson Family Life Center in Ames is a success, raising over $3 million. This 20th YSS facility in Central Iowa will house the YSS Family Counseling Center, YSS Adoption and Foster Care, and several other critical components to YSS' mission to support Iowa's youth and families.

YSS was selected for the 2011 Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Organizational Award for its commitment to civil rights and diversity. The award was presented by Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Chairperson, Kimberly Baxter, on October 29, 2010, and it was in recognition of YSS' constant effort to promote tolerance and respect for diversity.

June 1, 2011 marks 35 years since the founding board of Youth & Shelter Services held its first meeting and appointed George Belitsos as its first Executive Director. The creation of YSS was intense in its commitment and dedication to youth, a commitment and dedication that has continued throughout the past 35 years.  

Eight non-profit agencies, led by Youth & Shelter Services, have come together to create a new statewide collaboration known as the Partnership of Iowa Foster Care Youth Councils. The statewide Partnership seeks to unleash the full potential for personal growth among foster and adoptive youth in Iowa. Youth will be trained to become advocates for themselves and others and also participate in valuable leadership opportunities.  Youth will share their personal stories with each other, provide understanding and support for one another, gain life skills necessary to become healthy, independent adults and build partnerships with adults in the community.

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