Yellow Umbrella Assists Many Through Life’s Storms
By Derek Suomi // July 10, 2012
Volunteer Group Serves Community
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Yellow Umbrella is Brevard County’s oldest nationally accredited family support and child abuse prevention center.
Since 1988, Yellow Umbrella has provided the guidance and assistance needed by area families under duress.
Either privately requested or in some cases court-ordered, Yellow Umbrella, initially created to stabilize struggling families, now provides many different programs from mental health counseling to life-skills training such as financial budgeting.
Yellow Umbrella Executive Director/CEO Terri Marmis explains that there are a number of reasons that children and families might come to need assistance.
“Sometimes it’s just a loss of a job. Sometimes it’s a generational problem, we only know what we’ve been taught, so we try to make sure we prevent future problems by being proactive now,” she said.
With offices in Rockledge and Palm Bay, Yellow Umbrella employs 35 state-certified mental health counselors in addition to a group of para-professionals. Known as Parent Aides, these representatives provide in home services such as organizing household functions, arranging for transportation needs and ensuring dietary needs are met.
Licensed by the state and trained by Yellow Umbrella, many of the Parent Aides go on to obtain degrees in social work.
“Not only are we able to assist families in the community, but many of our entry-level providers go on to work for organizations like DCF (Department of Children and Families) enriching the mental health services of our community as well,” Marmis said.
Yellow Umbrella also provides for court-ordered services such as youth anger management classes and supervised child-parent visitations.
Recent economic conditions have become a double-edged sword for the organization.
Charitable giving is usually the first thing to go for many people during a recession which has created a struggle for Yellow Umbrella to ensure budgetary needs are met and services are provided.
Many yearly grants and donor-based payroll deductions that up until recently could be relied upon have been harder to attain.
“Volunteers are the life-blood of our organization.” Yellow Umbrella President Terri Marmis
At the same time, the need for the types of services that Yellow Umbrella provides have “never been greater” according to Marmis because of factors like job loss which unfortunately she admits can begin a domino-effect of struggles for many families.
A donation of time can be just as valuable as a donation of money.
“Volunteers are the life-blood of our organization” Marmis said.
There are a number of areas in which volunteers can help with administrative duties to helping to facilitate events at the center and in the community.
Best of all, Marmis said, “You always go away knowing you’ve helped someone.”
Currently there also is a need for material donations. The needs of hurting families are almost innumerable with the most obvious being basic needs like food and household items.
“We have weekly donations from Wal-Mart of returned or damaged items. We would much rather give those items to a family in need than see them go into a landfill,” Marmis said. “Anything that can be used in a home is needed.”
Some needs might not so obvious, like technology.
“There is a great need for computers. We have people who rebuild donated computers that we then give to children and families for educational and potential employment uses,” Marmis said.
Yellow Umbrella also has a partner program with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department that provides bicycles to those without transportation.
Community partnership and the education and strengthening of the families of Brevard County is the mission of the Yellow Umbrella.
“We are the bright, sunny yellow umbrella in life’s storms over Brevard County,” Marmis said.
To volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.yellowumbrella.org or call 321-723-2927.