History & Core Values


Social Advocates for Youth is always there to serve the most vulnerable children, youth, and their families so they can realize their fullest potential to live their best lives.


Our vision at Social Advocates for Youth is to plant the seed of change in every child, young adult, and family member we serve to transform the course of their life and the lives of future generations.

SAY Core Values

1. We Love People

We care deeply about people. We care about where they have been, where they are, and where they want to go in their life. We care about those who support our work with volunteer time and generous donations. We care about those who work directly with our youth, supporting successful futures. And we care about our kids; we believe each of them matter and we believe that the work we do together will change our community for the better.

2. We Are There For Youth When They Need It The Most

We know that life has challenges, bad times, and is not always pretty. People make mistakes, bad decisions, exercise poor judgment. We do not avoid this, deny this, or run away from this. We embrace it as an opportunity to learn, change, and grow. It is easy to be with people when they are at their best, but people need support most when they are at their worst. Youth bring anger, fear, shame, guilt, anxiety, sadness with them. They need SAY for help, support, and transformation. This incredible capacity for hope and change shows us what we know: that people are amazing, wonderful, resilient, resourceful, beautiful, unique, and worthy. It is our honor to be there for them when they need us the most.

3. We Are In It Together

We believe that our youth and families are best served by a community of individuals and organizations who are working together for the good of the whole. We know that impacting one youth matters because we are in it together as a community and a society. Together we can do more and be more, we can serve more and expect more. Staff, board members, donors, funders, partners, youth and families; we invest the time and effort collectively and together we harvest the rewards in the bright futures of our youth.

4. We Are Youthful

We are hopeful. We are fun. We are full of delight and possibility. We are curious. We are inquisitive. We are open to trying new things, to stretching ourselves. We are adventurous and playful. We are growing.

5. We Are Our Best Selves

We are kind. We are supportive. We are helpful. We are forward thinking. We make someone’s day. We are ourselves. We bring our whole selves to work. Your best self will change from day to day, situation to situation. When you are hungry, sick, lonely, uncertain your best self takes on different characteristics. But always, your best self avoids self-criticism, communicates with others, and continues to strive for success. We are the best version of ourselves in the moment, and we encourage each other to be our best selves too.

6. We Are Committed To Service

We love our youth and it shows. We value perseverance and determination; it is these two characteristics that allow us to serve youth. Likewise, it is perseverance and determination that allow our youth to succeed. They are committed to themselves and so are we. We believe in what we are doing. We are committed to finding a solution, to serving youth when they need us most, to helping our community be a home for everyone. We are excited to make an impact on our community and our youths’ dreams.

7. We Are Bold

At SAY, we are courageous, confident, and fearless. Our boldness is rooted in service to our clients and our community. We take risks for what we believe is right. Boldness infuses our action and our spirit.

History of SAY

SAY was established in 1971 by a group of legendary Sonoma County leaders, Judge John Moskowitz, Henry Trione, Chief Probation Officer Bill Mulligan, Lawyer Tadini Bacigalupi and High School Teacher Andy Wahlstrom to provide a constructive alternative to juvenile hall for runaway youth. Since then, SAY has helped over 60,000 youth, aged 0-24. Over the years, SAY has continually refined its program formula to break cycles of abuse and hopelessness. That formula incorporates four pillars: housing, counseling, careers and crisis services. The product: Youth who are stable and able to rise to life’s challenges and opportunities.

Today, SAY, the principal organization serving at-risk kids in Sonoma County since 1971, has recently renovated the old Sutter Warrack Hospital in Santa Rosa re-purposing this idle community asset into the SAY Finley Dream Center. The Dream Center has become part of SAY’s family of services, which also include: a teen shelter, drop-in center, youth apartments, street outreach team, in-school mental health care, grief services, and a robust career services programs.

SAY is governed by a 20 member, highly respected Board of Directors including bankers, accountants, financial managers, law-enforcement and criminal justice administrators.