About Us

WYN recognizes a simple truth—growing up is hard, especially during those pivotal years from 5th through 10th grade. WYN invests in the lives of children and youth in order to build a better future and a stronger community for the High Country. We truly are “raising a community” and we do this by providing unique and quality programming that offers individualized support to over 200 children and youth each year in our Mentoring and After School Initiatives alone.

WYN Timeline

1985 (February) – Watauga Youth Network (WYN) is formed. Gayle Combs is the first Executive Director and Marion Durham is the first Board Chair.
1985 (May) – WYN, housed at New River Mental Health, receives the Governor’s One-on-One Grant to fund the first “Friends” Program – a mentoring program for court involved youth.
1987 – WYN’s second program, “The Youth Resource Center” (After School), located on Old Bristol Road is added along with the WYN Summer Program to serve at-risk and court-involved youth.
1989 – Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program (YSAP) is established as a county-wide substance abuse prevention program for Watauga County youth.
1989 – WYN offices move from New River Mental Health to a storefront on Howard Street.
1990 – The Board of Directors begin an intensive $300,000 campaign to renovate and occupy the Old Junaluska School (originally built in 1960 as Watauga County’s segregated school).
1992 – Staff move into the newly renovated Junaluska property and establish a long-term lease for $1 per year with WAMY Community Action.
1994 – WYN receives funding from High Country United Way and the DJJDP Support Our Students (SOS) initiative to begin working with all middle graders in Watauga County; not just those facing difficulties in the court system or at school.
2004 – After School expands to two sites in Watauga County—one east and one west
2004 – Substance Abuse Prevention Program expands to serve more youth in Watauga County and to make services available to students in Avery, Alleghany, Wilkes, and Ashe Counties.
2005 – WYN celebrates its 20th Anniversary and changes its name from Watauga Youth Network to Western Youth Network.
2006 – Project Venture implemented as a component of the Prevention Program which focuses on getting youth involved in outdoor adventures and Appalachian heritage.
2006 – Jennifer Warren becomes Executive Director.
2009 – WYN loses the Governor’s One-on-One, and Support our Students grants, which results in the loss of over $125,000.
2010 – WYN loses the Safe and Drug Free Schools grant, which was over $100,000.
2012 – WYN hires a Director of Development.
2014 – The WYN Legacy Fund was established by an anonymous donor.
2014 – The WYN Mentoring Program expands to Avery County.
2014 – WYN begins remodeling the Junaluska property with grant funding provided by The Clabough Foundation and The Glass Foundation.
2014 – WYN hosts inaugural Wish Upon a Star Gala at Blowing Rock Country Club.
2015 – WYN celebrates 30th Anniversary.
2015 – WYN pilots a school-based mentoring program

2016 – 2018
• WYN anticipates expanding services to elementary and high school populations as well as continuing to expand our programs to other counties.
• Create a sports league
• Implement a counseling program as well as an integrated wellness initiative
• Explore a snow day program
• Implement a vocational exploration component to our programs
• Youth leadership
• Parenting program and support
• Create more opportunities for evening and weekend activities for youth
• Create a post-secondary education scholarship fund