We honor the extensive history of the Novato Youth Center and Novato Human Needs Center since 1966. Both organizations were created by concerned residents who wanted to provide programs and services to address important community needs. We are extremely grateful to our past leadership, including Board Presidents and Executive Directors, who have helped navigate the organizations through strategic planning to effectively serve the community over the past 45+ years.

Novato Youth Center History Summary

In 1966, the Novato Youth Center began as a dream.  Our founding families hoped to someday create a safe and nurturing place for Novato’s youth. A decade later, after lots of community organizing, the doors to our new facility opened and was first called the Novato Boys Club. Our Center evolved and grew through several name changes and building expansions and additions to become the Novato Youth Center, a nonprofit organization offering a wide range of educational and enrichment activities to support the healthy development of youth and their families.  Our Center grew from serving 250 children in our first afterschool program to now reaching more than 2,700 youth and families annually.

Novato Human Needs Center History Summary

The Novato Human Needs Center was founded in 1972 when three people, a single mom, local pastor and small business owner, wanted to help brighten the holidays for their neighbors who were less fortunate. Volunteers first worked out of a garage collecting holiday gifts and food. Shortly after this first holiday share, the first paid staff and volunteers moved offices to an older house on South Novato Blvd. paying the City of Novato annual rent of one dollar.  In 1985 following a successful local community-wide fundraising campaign and completion of construction, the new resource Center was opened at 1907 Novato Blvd.   NHNC grew from assisting 50 families to more than 3,000 of Novato’s low-income children, adults and seniors, providing a full array of critical basic services.

Novato Youth Center (NYC) and Novato Human Needs Center (NHNC) Detailed History Timeline

1966-1976: NYC: The Center began as a dream for parents and community members, who fundraised for 10 years, and constructed the 680 Wilson Avenue building that opened in 1976.

1972: NHNC: Founded when three people, a single mom, local pastor and small business owner, wanted to help brighten the holidays for their neighbors who were less fortunate. They first worked out of a garage collecting holiday gifts in the initial years.

1983-1999: NHNC: Outreach to Latino/Hispanic populations to provide support for newly settled immigrants; operated “Kinship Hotline” a suicide hotline during this period utilizing staff and volunteers to manage phones.

1976-1982: NYC: Initially opened as the Novato Boys Club, with drop-in recreation services, sports and classes; membership based services to 300 youth ages 6 to 18 in the first year. Bingo was the primary fundraiser.

1983-84: NYC: Renamed to the Novato Youth Center to expand services (501c3 non-profit organization (tax ID# 94-1735064); opened the first licensed school age childcare center in Marin County; launched winter Indoor Soccer league and first collaborative program with NUSD, Recreation Unlimited (an enrichment program for students with learning differences).

1985-2008: NHNC:  New Center opened May 1st 1985; the second Thrift Store was created to provide low cost furniture, clothes, and household items for clients and the community.

1987-88: NYC: Launched Tutoring Program and educational workshops; launched the Youth and Family Counseling Program and started NUSD school-based counseling services.

1990: NYC: Remodeled and expanded the 680 Wilson Ave building from 14,000 sq. ft. to 23,000 sq. ft., enabling an increase in school age licensing capacity from 85 to 150 participants.

1984-2013: NHNC: Created the Senior Transportation Program to transport Novato Seniors and Disabled people to medical appointments and other critical services using paratransit vans driven by friendly drivers.

1992: NHNC: Created the Amigos de la Familia Program as a contract with County of Marin Children and Family Services to provide in-home parenting support to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The program includes both Spanish and English speaking families served by NHNC bilingual seasoned case managers.

1993-1996: NHNC: Created the Summer Youth and Training Program for low-income youth between the ages of 14 and 21 to receive job coaching and counseling, vocational guidance and career planning.

1993-2004: NHNC:  Became part of School linked Services Program at Lynwood and Hamilton Schools.

1994: NYC: Strategically shifted from facility-based services only to offering programs throughout Novato.  A second collaborative program with NUSD, Adventures In Learning, began serving high risk students from all 8 elementary schools. Bingo fundraiser ended.

1994-2015: NHNC:  Launched shower services 4 days/week to support homeless clients.

1996: NYC: Expanded licensed childcare to add Infant and Preschool Programs; Counseling services were provided on all three NUSD Middle schools with the support of Marin Community Foundation.

1999-2004: NHNC: Launched Families Made Whole Program a comprehensive family support program to enhance socioeconomic status and well-being of low-income families in Novato (later became The Thriving Family Program).

1999: NYC: Launched Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program served on NUSD school campuses.

2001: NYC: 25th Anniversary Luncheon Celebration.

2002: NHNC: 30TH Anniversary Luncheon Celebration.

2003-04: NYC: Launched Parent Project and Novato School Readiness Program.

2004: NHNC:  Thriving Families Initiative launched as part of a grant by Marin Community Foundation to link safety net together as part of a networked antipoverty program.

2006: NYC: 30th Anniversary Gala; opened the Novato Wellness Center to provide reproductive and mental health services to adolescents.

2007: NHNC: 35th Anniversary Dinner and Live Auction.

2007-2009: NYC: Wilson Ave building kitchen remodeled to commercial size; launched Parent-Child Interaction Therapy; installed new school age playground; launched Vibrant Novato/health education program.

2009-2010: NYC: Launched new mission “to inspire and prepare youth to succeed” with tagline “Success Starts Here”.  Received Novato Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year and the Bank of Marin Spirit of Marin awards. Launched Promotores Program. Become fiscal sponsor to Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth.

2009: NHNC: Total clients served grew to over 4,500 during the peak of the recession.

2011: NYC: 35th Anniversary Luncheon celebration.

2014: NYC: Adopted new organizational values that guide our daily work, and our employees and volunteers continuously strive to demonstrate them. 1. Collaboration and Teamwork; 2. Cultural Competence; 3. Excellence; 4. Integrity; 5. Learning and Continuous Improvement.

2015-16: NYC: Promotores Program expansion; 40th Anniversary Luncheon celebration.

2017: NHNC 45th celebrates 45th Anniversary. NYC and NHNC Board of Directors unanimously voted in November to merge the two organizations.

2018: NYC and NHNC merged and renamed to North Marin Community Services on January 1st. Launched new vision and mission