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About : History

Youth Guardian Services began with one teenager and his friend wanting to make a difference in the lives of young people who are bombarded with negative messages about youth, and the confusion that often comes with the recognition of sexuality. It started off modestly and informally with an idea to form a youth support group in their area to help young people with the struggling process of self-acceptance and the eventual journey of coming out. Research was conducted on what it would take to form the youth support group, including all the liabilities associated with such a group. It was later decided to move their efforts to the Internet.

Jason Hungerford, 19 at the time, had already been working online with youth for several years, and was the List Owner of an email mailing list called SCHOOLS. James Miller, at the time only 16 years old, had never even heard the sounds of a modem dialing up and connecting to the Internet. Katherine Lund, then 19, was a straight supporter of her many gay friends, and wanted to also help out with the project. It was Jason's decision to move their efforts to the Internet, where he daily saw a very real need for their work. Each day Jason received hundreds of emails from young people struggling with or questioning their sexuality. He would give advice on acceptance, coming out, and dealing with the negativity that often results. That was the summer of 1996. In October, 1996, Jason first made the plans of their project public by announcing it to several people at a PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Conference in Washington, D.C. He received positive feedback and approached the Critical Path AIDS Project, more commonly known as CritPath.Org with the project proposal.

The proposal asked for two email mailing lists separated by two different age groups: One for ages 13 through 17 and another for ages 17 through 21. The proposal was approved, and Jason sought further assistance from Internet friends to help in the staffing and management of the email lists. He also devised a system of rules and guidelines for the email lists, with the help of several people.

The YOUTH13-17 and YOUTH17-21 Email Lists launched on January 31, 1997, and for nearly a year, was hosted on CritPath's server. Jason was the ListOwner for both lists, James was the ListManager of the YOUTH13-17 List, and Katherine was the ListManager for the YOUTH17-21 list.

By the summer of 1997, the two YOUTH Lists had grown so much at such a rapid pace, and the group had started forming ideas of other future projects they wanted to start. They were advised to obtain their own server to run the lists, and these other new projects in the works, and CritPath would continue to host their T1 connection to the Internet free of charge.

The informal group made up of the three friends, two living on their own, the other still in high school, could not realistically purchase a new computer server to continue their work on the Internet. The three started to think of ways to possibly raise money for the required hardware.

An outside supporter suggested that the group form a non-profit organization, file for tax-exempt status, and solicit donations from supporters for their cause. After months of planning and extensive research, and an initial startup loan, the group did exactly that. They also managed to pick up an extra "partner" along the way, Pete Helvey.

Youth Guardian Services was officially incorporated by the Commonwealth of Virginia on November 5, 1997. The four founding Directors adopted the organization's Bylaws on November 23, 1997. Jason Hungerford was named Chairperson of the Board and Executive Director, James Miller was named Assistant Director, Pete Helvey was given the title of Interactivity Director, and Katherine Lund acted as the group's Executive Assistant. A server was purchased through a loan in January 1998, and Youth Guardian Services currently operates all of its projects off of its own server under the domain name Youth-Guard.Org. The Critical Path AIDS Project continues to provide YGS with its Internet connection, as well as providing further technical assistance to the organization.

Youth Guardian Services, Inc. is organized in such a way that the Board of Directors has ultimate control over the organization and its services, projects, and operations. The Board of Directors appoints an Executive Director to manage the daily operations of the organization, and ensures that the goals set forth by the Board are accomplished. The Executive Director, may, at his or her discretion appoint people to an Executive Staff to assist in the day-to-day operations of the organization. The Executive Director and the Executive Staff have the power and authority to act on behalf of the Board in the day-to-day operations, but must seek the approval of the Board of any changes in mission or operation of the organization. Each project owned and operated by Youth Guardian Services has its own individual Project Staff who ensures that the goals of that specific project are met. The staff of individual projects are overseen by the Executive Staff, which is then ultimately monitored by the Board of Directors.

Having the organization formed in this fashion allows flexibility of power and control, as well as the implementation of projects and its tasks and the overall goals and mission of the organization. It also allows increased involvement and assistance from many different people who might not have otherwise been given such an opportunity.


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© 1997-2008, Youth Guardian Services, Inc.
All YGS projects are managed and coordinated by volunteers.
Youth Guardian Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
Questions: Contact YGS Executive Staff
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