Michelle Hankinson stands in front of the Renton Area Youth Services office in downtown Renton. While RAYS is merging with two other nonprofits, much of it remains the same. Courtesy photo RAYS.

Michelle Hankinson stands in front of the Renton Area Youth Services office in downtown Renton. While RAYS is merging with two other nonprofits, much of it remains the same. Courtesy photo RAYS.

Local RAYS joins nonprofit Childhaven

Renton Area Youth Services has been working with local families for 50 years.

Renton Area Youth Services (RAYS), a nonprofit that has supported Renton and Skyway families for 50 years, is now merging with two other local nonprofits to increase services and strengthen family support, at a time where need has intensified during the coronavirus pandemic.

The board of directors for Childhaven, RAYS and Art with Heart unanimously agreed to this, which went into effect June 1. The merger will not change the name of RAYS, but instead it will operate as a part of Childhaven, another local nonprofit that provides a safe place for children and families.

“This is a big announcement for the community, and a good move,” former executive director of RAYS Michelle Hankinson said.

The three nonprofits felt their values all fell in line and that working together would make they offerings to families and children stronger. Childhaven calls itself “constructively dissatisfied” with the status quo of outcomes for children in Puget Sound.

CEO of Childhaven Jon Botten said they worked on a business plan over a six month period to see if it was possible to better serve kids and families together by adding on other nonprofits. It isn’t a cost saving measure, but more resources around the same costs, he said.

While these talks have been going on for several years, the intensification of family needs as a result of COVID-19 and the related recession did speed up the merger. Data emerging around children’s mental health in relation to this pandemic is also showing that there will be an increasing demand throughout the next year in services, head of programming at Childhaven Megan Beers said.

Hankinson said with RAYS primarily serving in Renton schools, COVID-19 closing schools has made it challenging to offer their mental health services to students.

For families who are served by RAYS, they don’t have to expect any immediate changes in services, Hankinson said. Instead there will be some new resources available for Renton families. They are retaining services, programs and staff.

“Between Childhaven and RAYS, we will be serving from age zero to 80 years old,” Hankinson said.

RAYS will be updating any changes on their website and social media, as well as having discussions with their clients about what the future holds.

All of the nonprofits in this merger are coming from places of strength, Botten said, but as the recession continues other nonprofits might not be able to weather this storm alone. Most nonprofits have had to reduce services or lose staff during the new recession, but partnerships are forming to help combat that. This can protect from the loss of nonprofits that was seen in the recession from 2007.

“Other (nonprofits) are starting to realize that this is going to be a necessity, coming together, in order to come out of this in a better position to meet the needs of the community,” Botten said. “You don’t have to be in a position of desperation, but actually the best time to do it is when you’re still healthy and strong.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

A young chef carefully spreads sauce onto pizza dough during a cooking class at Young Chefs Academy of Covington. Courtesy photo/YCA Covington
Kids culinary school opens in Covington

The school takes the unknown out of cooking for kids, owner Deb O’Brien said.

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

The Landing in Renton/File photo
The Landing open in Phase 2 for businesses

Individual retailers determine reopening and operating hours

24 Hour Fitness is closing over 100 gyms, including one in Renton. Photo courtesy the Highlands 24 Hour Fitness Instagram.
Highlands 24-Hour Fitness gym will not be reopening

It is one of several gyms in region and over 100 in the country closing after 24 Hour Fitness filed bankruptcy Monday

Westfield Southcenter Mall to reopen June 15

Modified hours; safety protocols

Closure, layoffs at Mitsubishi Aircraft’s Renton headquarters.

Only a year into joining the aerospace hub of the Northwest, several hits to the commercial jet industry in 2019-2020 causes the company to scale back.

Goodwill to reopen donation centers, stores in King, Pierce counties

Including Kent, Auburn, Federal Way locations

Michelle Hankinson stands in front of the Renton Area Youth Services office in downtown Renton. While RAYS is merging with two other nonprofits, much of it remains the same. Courtesy photo RAYS.
Local RAYS joins nonprofit Childhaven

Renton Area Youth Services has been working with local families for 50 years.

New Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma to open June 8

$400M, 310,000-square-foot facility will open with COVID-19 precautions

Photo courtesy of Gyros House Mediterranean Grill.
Gyros House Mediterranean Grill closes Friday

The restaurant, which like many has been hit hard by the impacts of the closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, is now moving to catering-only after 26 years.

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn to reopen May 26

Face masks to be required of guests and employees

Like similar businesses across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Bothell restaurant Hana Sushi closed due to public-health concerns. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.