Youth Service Inc. (YSI) celebrated 70 years of powerful work in helping teens, strengthening the family unit, and promoting community safety with an event on Wednesday, September 21st at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. The atmosphere was abuzz with warm greetings between YSI former and current employees and board members as they stood in amazement at the gallery of pictures and videos on display, assembled through hours of painstaking effort by board member, Donald Kennel. Guests settled in as they enjoyed delicacies from Philabundance Community Kitchen Catering. Executive Director, Gwen Bailey kicked off the night with stirring reflections of times past, emphasizing the depth of influence YSI has had on Philadelphia youth since her decades-long tenure. She noted, “We were the first agency to provide a group home for teen mothers and babies… Young women who lived there would give feedback years later and say, ‘You gave me the chance that I needed. I didn’t know it – but that’s what I needed to do so I could learn to be a parent where I may not have been parented in the most optimal way.’”
As board members gave reflections and well-deserved citations from the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the theme of gratitude for service rendered shaped the messaging of the event. Bailey took a moment to celebrate the exciting evolution pending through its affiliation with People’s Emergency Center (PEC), who shared the night with many PEC attendees present for the celebration. She shared, “We are in partnership so that YSI and PEC will continue providing the quality and supports that families need to have to grow and thrive.” The presentations ended with beaming pictures taken on the Dornsife steps between all guests, signaling a fresh step forward into even greater works for Philadelphia’s children, youth, and families.