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(From COFY to COFFY)

COFY was first conceived in September of 2003 through a meeting between Lincoln D. Ellis, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana and Michael Scott, then Director of Gary's Youth Services Bureau. The meeting's discussion centered on the need to serve more children while, at the same time, building the capacities of respective youth serving organizations to accomplish this goal. It was agreed that neither agency could properly service Gary's youth alone. Clearly, there was a need to mobilize all community based youth serving organizations and involve them in developing effective strategies to properly serve more children.

In November of 2004, Michael Scott met with representatives of Indiana Youth Institute. Indiana Youth Institute was interested in bringing various community organizations together to build upon their capacities. Mr. Scott felt this would be the perfect opportunity to implement the vision previously discussed.

On January 20, 2005 Community Organizations for Youth (COFY) was born. The first meeting of the group was held at Gary's Genesis Center. A luncheon was held, and discussion ensued regarding how community based organizations could begin to network more closely together while assisting each other in building capacities to serve more youth, in an effective manner, within each agency. Forty- Four Gary- based youth serving organizations and various governmental units responded to this call to action, and a theme of "By Building Relations We Are Building Capacity" was born.

From the initial meeting, a 12 member Coordinating Committee was selected More than 30 people requested to serve on this panel. The Coordinating Committee was chaired by Mr. Scott and CoChaired by Mr. Ellis and Dr. Mary Steele-Agee, Superintendent of Gary Community Schools.
COFY Committee Members included the following people:
Michael Scott, Lincoln Ellis, Dr. Mary Steele-Agee, LaTanya Williams-Youth Services Bureau, Dr. Ella Bush-Images of Hope, Dwight Gardner-Trinity Baptist Church, Barbara Leek-Gary Housing Authority, Mary Cossey- YWCA, Shirley Caylor-Crisis Center, Charles Hughes-Gary Common Council and Richard Woods-Gary Pop Warner Football.

This Committee worked tirelessly and held several training workshops with the aide and sponsorship of Indiana Youth Institute and Mr. Dennis Tooley. Long-lasting relationships were formed and several organizations began to work together. Barriers were removed and walls tom down. Children were served better through this networking collaboration.

Today, this collaborative effort is being revitalized under a new name - Community Organizations for Families and Youth (COFFY).

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