SAFS has been helping Sylvania families in need for 50 years

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

The SAFS original building in the 1970s.

For the past 50 years, Sylvania area families in need have been turning to Sylvania Area Family Services and its predecessors, Huntington Community Services and Huntington Farms.

While its name and physical presence has evolved, SAFS maintains the same mission to offer services to families in need in the Sylvania School District.

The organization began when several neighbors in the “Huntington Farms” area saw that a high percentage of children in the area were dropping out of school. They realized there was a need for youth services to address those challenges. A group evolved and began operating in a basement under the banner Huntington Farms Association in 1967.

By 1972, the group moved to 5440 Marshall Rd., leasing the land from the city of Sylvania for $1 a year and constructed a building on the site in 1974. Over the years, a thrift shop was initiated, an active Boy Scout troop was organized and an active girls club was formed. A senior citizens club termed S.A.I.L., Senior Action Interest League was formed that became the forerunner and the foundation of the Sylvania Senior Center.

Huntington Farms evolved to the Huntington Community Center in 1980 and then Sylvania Area Family Services in 2003. An addition was completed in 2014, more than doubling the size of the original building, providing a main event hall, which can be rented providing ongoing revenue for the organization.

Anita Sanchez-Serda

Today, under the leadership of Anita Sanchez-Serda, SAFS continues to offer services to those families in need in the area. “We are a change agent in the community,” she pointed out. “People come to us and we help find the resources to meet their challenges,” she added. “We also have many ongoing programs here.” Those include an after school program for at-risk youth, a youth diversion program for those charged with non-violent first offenses, a summer enrichment camp program and a student mentoring program. Kevin Milliken, who is the Youth Empowerment Coordinator, also works with students from area high schools who need community service hours. “Kevin coordinates meaningful jobs for those students here at the center and throughout the community,” Sanchez-Serda explained. “Over 9,000 hours of community service have been compiled in the youth volunteer program in less than two years,” Milliken reported.

In addition, a fully stocked choice pantry is maintained and is available for qualifying family members to shop for groceries once a week. “Rather than packaging groceries for these families, we open the pantry to them so they can select the items they need and want. It’s about providing a hand up, not a hand out.”

Social Services Coordinator Dottie Segur works with families throughout the year. She makes sure those in need receive holiday food baskets. She also works with area businesses and individuals who adopt families for the holidays. Families can also participate in the 11-week Families United in Nutrition or FUN program where they learn about healthy eating habits, shopping on a budget and the importance of exercise. All of these services are made possible thanks to the generosity of the community, through grants from the city and township, contributions from local businesses, churches, organizations and individuals, according to Sanchez-Serda. In addition, SAFS hosts a number of fundraising activities including the upcoming:

Chocolate and Wine Affair
planned for March 25

Casino Night
on May 13


the annual Ray of Hope Dinner
honoring the accomplishments of community members in October.

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