Friends, supporters, former and current staff and board members, and community members came together to celebrate a huge milestone in the life of Helping Services – 50 years of service!
Started by a group of students with support from faculty at Luther College as the “Trouble Line” and “Hot Line to Help,” the early focus was on local youth. Teens and young adults could call and talk to someone to get help at a time when helplines were still a new idea in the field of social work.
As the work developed, a drop-in center called the “Hobbit Hole” was opened as a place for youth to congregate. Volunteers and staff would be present to address everything from problems dealing with substance use, domestic violence, teen dating violence, mental health, and more.
The grassroots organization became an official nonprofit in 1973 under the name “Helping Services for Northeast Iowa.” In 2017, that name was updated to “Helping Services for Youth & Families” to reflect their mission of healthier and safer families and communities. Starting in Decorah, the organization has grown to expand services to many communities. Staff and volunteers now reside in eight counties of northeast Iowa.
The 50th-anniversary celebration event on April 22nd at Impact Coffee featured speakers from throughout the history of Helping Services, including Karen Tjossem, a founding member of the “Trouble Line,” and Tom Murray, a past mentor with the Youth Mentoring program. Carson Eggland, Executive Director, remarked that Helping Services will continue to be a driving force in northeast Iowa by leveraging its pillars of prevention, advocacy, and education while staying true to the mission of supporting healthier and safer families and communities. The evening was filled with appreciation and acknowledgment of past successes while looking forward to a bright future.