1968 YES began with a simple premise: Give Youth a Chance. Take city kids off the street corner and let them ski down a mountain. Let them feel the wind and sun in their faces, and maybe for the first time, the pride of achievement. It’s a whole different world out there. This can create a whole different kid. That is what happened to Richard Williams growing up in New York City.
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his call to dream of possibilities, Richard took his passion to Boston and founded Operation Ski Lift. 500 kids from working poor families got that chance this first year.
1970: Operation Ski Lift is founded, helping 500 youth from low-income families experience skiing. (The program is now known as Operation Snowsports.)
1972 One-on-one attention from caring volunteers is the key for 1,000 kids who learn to ski each year. Youth Enrichment Services is incorporated as a 501© 3 with a purpose of people helping people. Outdoor recreation is the tool. Education is the purpose.
1975 Leveraging resources from ski resorts and sporting goods stores, as well as free warehouse space from the Christian Science Church, YES expands to year-round programs. Backpacking, canoeing, bicycling and environmental education trips are held at the Cape Cod National Seashore and at Swann Lodge, donated by the state of Massachusetts.
1980 Friends and alumni raise a half million dollars to build new headquarters for YES in the South End and expand programs. Job training for teens begins in the Macomber Rental Shop with 1,200 sets of donated skis, boots, bicycles, and camping gear.
Snowboarding is added to YES’s winter programming
2003 Thirty five years later, more than 100,000 kids have come through YES’s doors
2007 YES Academy is established. This after school program partners with Boston middle and high schools. Job Training, Girls Outdoor Adventure Leadership, and the Junior Volunteer Program are all part of a developmentally appropriate curriculum that teaches youth leadership.
2008: In 2008, Mary Williams retires as Executive Director. Longtime youth development leader, Bryan Van Dorpe, becomes the organization’s third Executive Director.
The Richard Williams Memorial Scholarship is established, with its first scholarship being issued to Lauren Marshall, YES alumnus.
2011 A record number of youth have signed up for Operation SnowSports.
“YES has put me ahead by opening me up to new things, the good things, and all the positive experiences they gave me, ” says one participant.
2013: Youth Excel Through Tailored Instruction (YETTI) is debuted. Through YETTI, youth go on 4+ ski and snowboard trips with the same instructor. Through YETTI, youth grow confidence as they increase their skills and form relationships with positive adult role models
College Preparation Program is successfully piloted. Massachusetts Promise Fellowship sponsors a second year of the program.