The Birmingham Youth Assistance celebrates 60 years

Upcoming events planned for families

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 7, 2022

BIRMINGHAM — For 60 years, the Birmingham Youth Assistance has served the local community through programs and services for at-risk youth.

In 1962, local leaders throughout Birmingham formed the BYA.

Early members of the BYA included Lt. Robert Schaule, of the Birmingham Police Department; Deputy Superintendent of Schools Daniel Nesbitt; Community House Director F. Ward Ouradnik, Birmingham Recreation Director W. D. Martin, and Birmingham YMCA Executive Director William H. Beck.

The BYA is a local affiliate of Oakland County Youth Assistance, which began in Hazel Park in 1953.

The idea came from Judge Eugene Moore, who wanted to create a program that provides opportunities for counseling and community service for youth who have been reported to the court for some form of delinquency.

The Youth Association has a tri-sponsorship, which includes the Circuit Court-Family Division, local school districts and local municipalities.

“Over the years, we have had community leaders from many facets of the city,” BYA board of directors member Mary Jo Dawson said. “From my perspective, we always like to engage the people who are in the city councils of the groups that support us. And then, like any nonprofit, you want to have a representation from, potentially, the retail and the churches and the general population.”

Professional staff is supported by the Oakland County Circuit Court Family Division, while financial support is provided by Birmingham Public Schools, the city of Birmingham, and the villages of Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin. The BYA also uses money from grants, individual donations and local fundraising efforts to help fund its services.

A licensed professional provided by the court offers free counseling to youth who have been referred to them by the police or school district. Free counseling is available for families who need support but can not afford it.

The main mission of the BYA is to prevent juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect.


Community involvement
In addition to family education programs and counseling services, the BYA also provides summer camp scholarships, mentoring and annual events engaging with the community.

The Mentors Plus program is offered for youth ages 5 to 17 years old who have been working with a BYA caseworker. Mentors in this program are all trained adult volunteers who offer support in areas such as positive self-image, healthy behaviors and more.

According to statistics on the BYA website, youth who met with their mentor an average of three times a month for a year or longer were 46% less likely to use drugs, 27% less likely to start drinking and 53% less likely to skip school.

“What we do is develop programs for youth and families and try to provide opportunities for youngsters to gain self-confidence, socialization skills, and any weaknesses that they may have,” BYA Treasurer Richard Stasys said.

Middle and high school students can be nominated for the Youth in Service program. This program is for students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to community service.

Stasys said he is always blown away by the capabilities of the nominated youth in this program based on the ways in which they give back to the community.

Each year, the BYA also helps send youth to day and overnight camps. The BYA Camp Committee helps provide enriching experiences for local children in at-risk families.


Upcoming events
The BYA offers several events that are intended to be accessible to local families. Many of the events are at little to no cost to the public.

On Feb. 5, the BYA will hold its annual Kids Dog Show for children ages 4 to 14 to show off their pets to compete in contests such as “Waggiest Tail,” “Best Costume,” “Best Looking,” and “Best Trick.”

It costs $15 to enter a dog, which also includes admission for the whole family and a goodie bag. The event will be held at the Berkshire Middle School gym in Beverly Hills.

On May 20, the annual Touch a Truck will be held. This event allows the community to see community vehicles up close, including fire trucks, police vehicles and more.

More information on the BYA can be found at