Vashon Youth & Family Services executive director steps down

Sam Collins, head of Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) for the past five years, will step down this Friday, the board announced in a news release Monday.

Mark DeLoach, secretary of the nonprofit’s board, said the agency will miss Collins but has a strong senior staff, solid funding and a solid strategic plan in place — which will enable it to weather the transition.

“It’s going to be tough to lose Sam,” DeLoach said. “On the other hand, his work on the strategic plan and leadership succession has prepared us well.”

Collins, 44, who headed the agency’s development efforts for two years before becoming its director, said he was stepping down because he wants to have more time with his family, particularly his two young children.

The job, especially while balancing the needs of his young family, he said, has been stressful.

“Generally, I’ve been tired for a long time,” he said.

Collins said he feels this is good time for him to leave the agency. The organization just got word that the Vashon Healthy Community Network has received a major drug prevention grant, which VYFS will administer.

“The internal strength of the organization is far greater. We have strong reserves and a range of funding sources,” he said. “It’s really a good time for me to step down.”

VYFS has also made significant strides in the development of its early learning program, including a new building and, just recently, a new playground, he said. At the same time, he added, he had hoped to more fully develop the agency’s early childhood education program — an area that he considers one of the community’s greatest needs.

In the last couple of years, he’s often talked about the lack of support for parents of young children and the difference such support can make in the long-term health of both families as well as the community.

“We’ve made tremendous progress, but there’s still work to be done,” he said.

Collins, who founded a youth development nonprofit in the Boston School District before coming to Vashon, said he believes VYFS will be better served by a director who’s a skilled day-to-day manager — something that is not his strong suit, he said.

He said he hopes to remain on Vashon and plans to finish his term as president of the Vashon Rotary Club.

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