2 social service agencies merge

Shown from left are Judith Nishimori, Lisa Brabo and Steven DeLira.

Staff Report

The Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center (SMVYFC) and Family Service Agency (FSA) of Santa Barbara County have merged to form one countywide organization that will provide mental-health counseling, basic-needs assistance and case-management services to more than 28,000 people annually.

This merger came about in response to the upcoming retirement of SMVYFC Executive Director Judi Nishimori. After extensive consideration, the group’s board members determined that a merger with FSA would strengthen and expand critical services for families and children in the Santa Maria Valley.

“Our organizations have always worked to achieve the same mission,” said Lisa Brabo, FSA Executive Director. “We are thrilled to be joining forces to better serve the entire county.”

“It has been an honor to serve the community, and I’m excited for the future of our agencies’ combined strength,” said Nishimori, who along with former Executive Director William Rogers has led SMVYFC since 1984.  In July, she reached her 39th anniversary with the organization.

The name “Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center” will continue to be used in the Santa Maria Valley to maintain the existing identity. Officials said the work of both agencies will continue as normal and no jobs or programs were cut as a result of the merger.

The combined agency has program sites in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Carpinteria, Santa Maria and Guadalupe. Eighty percent of services are delivered on school campuses, at community centers or in clients’ homes. FSA service sites include seven offices and more than 30 school campuses and community centers throughout the county.

The two boards have combined with co-presidents, one from each agency. Cole Kinney was president of SMVYFC board and Katya Armistead was co-president of the FSA board.

Lisa Brabo will continue as executive director of the merged organization. New Deputy Executive Director Steven DeLira is based in Santa Maria. He is well-known in the community from a 30-year career at the Santa Barbara County Probation Department.

For more information, visit http://fsacares.org/merger/