Serving the greater Whatcom and Skagit counties, lies a beacon of hope for youth: Northwest Youth Services (NWYS). Guided by the values of Community, Justice & Liberation, Humanity, and Accountability individuals come together to provide comprehensive wrap around services and affirm youth experience and autonomy, fostering collective healing and justice.

Under the strong leadership of the executive Director, Jason McGill, NWYS is steered by a powerful vision: a vision of a community where all young people are seen as catalysts for creating a just and liberated society. NWYS operates various sites and drop-in centers throughout the region, offering a plethora of wrap-around services tailored to the diverse needs of youth. From housing assistance to mental health support, education, and employment services, NWYS is dedicated to meeting young people where they are and providing the resources they need to thrive.

One such avenue for empowerment is the Youth Action Board (YAB). Comprising vibrant young individuals aged 12-24, the YAB serves as a testament to resilience in the face of adversity. These remarkable young minds share a common thread of lived experience in homelessness and housing instability, yet their spirits remain unyielding, fueled by a passion to enact change.

As an integral part of the Whatcom Anchor Community Initiative (ACI), the YAB stands at the forefront of transformative, youth-led solutions. Their voices spread throughout NWYS and the greater Whatcom and Skagit counties. From outreach efforts to a pen pal program catering to incarcerated youth, the YAB extends its reach far beyond conventional boundaries.

But their impact goes beyond mere initiatives; it’s about rewriting the narrative of youth homelessness. Empowered by their lived experiences, the YAB plays a pivotal role in influencing the ACI’s endeavors. Together, they strive to redefine how the community approaches and supports youth facing homelessness and housing insecurity.

Exciting new initiatives are on the horizon, including the Q Center, which will focus on providing services for queer and trans youth, and the Omni Center, serving as a creative haven for BIPOC youth. These initiatives underscore NWYS’s commitment to inclusivity and empowerment, ensuring that all young people have access to the support and resources they need to succeed.

With NWYS at the helm, youth in Whatcom and Skagit counties have access to a comprehensive network of support, empowering them to overcome challenges, rewrite their narratives, and build brighter futures.

Sarah Spier
Author: Sarah Spier