By James King
When Dawn and Ron Stueckle moved to San Francisco in 1991, they quickly established
themselves as youth leaders and mentors in the Outer Sunset. The married
couple came to the neighborhood as youth pastors but their work soon evolved.
In their capacity as pastors, they spent time getting involved in the lives of young people
by advocating for them at school, in court or in the youths’ homes.
In the early ’ 90s, Dawn Stueckle explained, there were very few resources in
the Outer Sunset and San Francisco in general for young people considered to be
at-risk and their families.
“We pretty quickly realized that the need was very extensive,” Stueckle said. “So, we
started Sunset Youth Services (SYS) as a way to address that need.”
After 25 years addressing that need, SYS continues to serve the community
and city at large from its office located on Judah Street, between 44th and 45th avenues.
Sunset Youth Services was founded by the Stueckles and Delvin Mack . They created
a non-profit organization that helps high-risk, or in-risk 14-24-year-old teenagers, young
adults and their families.
Specifically, SYS is an organization that provides students with job training and
social work services.
As the nonprofit has expanded its program since its founding in1992, Stueckles and
Mack have maintained their vision. Throughout its existence, SYS has increased its level
and breadth of services and now offers five comprehensive programs for youth.
On its website, SYS highlights its programs in the digital arts, music recording, case
management, family support and its cafe. It also works closely with various city
agencies to identify, educate and help underserved youth.
One of the organization’s goals is to “help kids find a new path and stay in the
community and succeed.”
“We work through the lens of helping kids deal with trauma and moving them forward,”
Malachi, 22, is a current staff member who started out at SYS as a student a couple
of years ago. He described the non-profit as a second home. Malachi loves
spending time at SYS’ recording studio, called UpStar Records, pursuing an en –
deavor he loves.
“Music is my life ,” Malachi said.
Kelly, 18, is ano ther young person who has had a positive experience at SYS.
“This is a family oriented place that you feel the minute you walk in the door,”
Kelly said he organization provided her with a support system that she never
“I never have to do things by myself. I have people to help me,” she said.
According to Stueckle, the SYS engages with the Outer Sunset community
in addition to serving youth.
“We try to be committed to being good neighbors,” she said.
Some of the work in the community that the non profit and its students have
done includes work at Playland at 43rd Avenue, where SYS partnered with the
city to build and maintain the site, and the district’s annual Sunset Community
Festival at the West Sunset Playground.
Recently, the organization was recognized for its contributions to the city’s youth. In June
of 2017, the California Association of Nonprofits saluted SYS as well as dozens of other
organizations around the state. Assemblymember Phil Ting nominated SYS from his
district, saying on his Twitter account: “Proud to honor Sunset Youth Services as my
Nonprofit of the Year! They offer many programs to at-risk youth in S.F.”
Stueckle said her favorite aspect of being the executive director of the non-profits
is building relationships with people in the community. She is especially proud of
people like Malachi, who work on the staff after participating in the program as
“A good day is any time young people make the decision to make better choices
for themselves,” she said.
To learn more about Sunset Youth Services, visit the website at
c ommunity and succeed.”
“We work through the lens of helping
kids dea l with t rauma and movin g th em
forward,” Stueckle said.
Malachi, 22, is a current staff member