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YSS of Marshall County’s open house on ‘standby’ due to COVID-19

Contributed photo — The building was scheduled to have its Open House Tuesday before the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.

Tuesday was supposed to be the grand reveal and open house for YSS of Marshall County’s new digs at 22 N. Center St. in Marshalltown; a celebration of the expanded resources and opportunities to help young people in the community and provide needed help for mental health issues. ‘

It was the culmination of a fundraising effort that began more than a year ago and construction was recently completed on the project. Multiple speakers had been planned as well, but COVID-19 has postponed the event.

In a Facebook post from Tuesday morning, YSS director David Hicks said the postponement wouldn’t impact the program’s ability to reach out to those in need.

“Our growth within our behavioral health department to support those who are seeking mental health care has increased 90 percent,” the post said. “In addition, we’ve been recently awarded a grant which will extend our partnership with juvenile court to provide counseling services over a wider region, which will triple the amount of youth we can serve for that program. We will continue to address unmet needs within our service area and provide ongoing support for youth, young adults, and families that we already serve.”

Hicks said the open house/ribbon-cutting ceremony will happen eventually, but for now they are “on standby” because of the virus. He likened the fight with COVID-19 to wrestling with a bear, saying “You’re not done wrestling until the bear says you’re done.”

YSS’s telehealth outreach has been in high demand during the past month. Hicks said the isolation and social distancing brought on by COVID-19 has brought light to mental health issues in the community. The program has been using Skype, Zoom and regular phone calls to conduct therapy sessions and reach out to those in need.

Hicks said a therapist hired by the program on March 1 has gone from a small handful of patients to around 25, and mentioned that further demand could mean a waiting list or more hires in the future if their finances allow. He said treating mental health is important because, much like some physical ailments, it won’t go away on its own — and can get worse over time without help.

“Mental illness can be a silent killer,” Hicks said. “The need has always been there, it’s just shone a light on it.”

With the loss of jobs due to the virus being widespread, Hicks said he was concerned about a loss of donations to YSS. The program relies on donations and community support for a good portion of its income.

However, the virus hasn’t put any dampening in the program’s spirits, and Hicks said they would continue to do all they can for Marshalltown and Marshall County.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Hicks said.

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Contact Noah Rohlfing at

nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.

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