YouthHope Helps Homeless Youth

Being a homeless youth means being scared, hungry, and alone most of the time. The few possessions that a homeless youth has can easily be stolen at any time. It's hard to find a safe place to sleep, and often the only option is to stay awake most of the night. Finding food is another huge hurdle. Most of the time the only way to eat is by finding left-over food in trash cans or dumpsters.

Based in Redlands, Ca., YouthHope's mission is to build confidence and promote self-sufficiency for homeless*, runaway, and underserved youth by providing trust, hope, support and education. YouthHope was founded in 2009 to be a support system for these youth so that they may grow to be healthy, successful adults that exit street life.

YouthHope is feeding, clothing, and providing much needed services to a growing number of youth each day. In 2012 YouthHope provided services to over 483 different youth. In the past 9 months alone, YouthHope has provided hot meals and services to 785 individual homeless*, runaway, and at-risk youth. YouthHope provides services through six main programs to homeless and run-away youth ages 14 to 24 from San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire.

Continued Education Program
Job Training Program
Medical, Dental, and Optometric Care Program
One-On-One Case Management Program
Prepared Meals and Food Pantry Program
Clothing Closet & Hygiene Items Program

According to the Redlands Unified School District, (2[phone redacted] school year) there were 1,404 Homeless 7th-12th graders enrolled in the RUSD district alone. YouthHope recently surveyed 276 youth. Of these:

29% were homeless and living on the streets
34% were abused as young children
19% were in the Foster Care system
37% have parents with drug or alcohol substance abuse problems

YouthHope recently became "˜Homeless' like so many of the youth we serve! For the past six months, YouthHope has been providing services and meals 3 days per week in a local park. WE DESPERATELY NEED A PERMANENT DROP-IN CENTER where we can provide services 5 days a week before the winter rain and cold weather sets in.

A Permanent Drop-In Center is desperately needed so that we may continue to provide services in one central, safe, warm location to the homeless, run-away, and at-risk youth in the area. We are so excited about the prospect of providing the youth we serve with all of the benefits that a Drop-In Center can provide. YouthHope needs to raise $380,000.00 dollars by the end of the year to purchase a Drop-In Center. A building committee is in place and we have established plans for a facility. We know that this a large amount of money, but we can't let another year go by without providing permanent facilities and services for these youth. We need to work together as a community to make this dream a reality for our homeless and needy youth. Once YouthHope has a permanent facility, we can offer all of our services 5 days per week in addition to providing hot showers and laundry services. Most importantly, the homeless and run-away youth of the area will have a place to call their own, a safe haven where they can come and receive a hot meal, a hug, unconditional love, and HOPE.

Please take a moment to read the story below and learn more about YouthHope and how we strive to help homeless, run-away, and at risk youth exit street life.

Randy, Homeless and Alone at Age 14:Randy grew up in San Bernardino, California. He began his young life, like many children, living with his mother and father. Even though Randy's life began normally, it wasn't, both of Randy's parents used drugs and alcohol. When Randy was approximately 10 years old, his parents divorced and went their separate ways. Neither of Randy's parents wanted him to live with them. During this time of uncertainty and pain in Randy's young life, Randy's uncle stepped in and was kind enough to offer to let Randy live with him.

Randy moved in with his uncle and for the first few weeks everything went well. Randy had a new place to live and a new school to adjust to. Then the abuse started. Over the course of the next 4 years, Randy's uncle sexually molested him and verbally and physically abused him constantly. Randy was only a young boy and was unable to make the abuse stop. He didn't have a safe place to go or a mother or father that were interested in him. Randy lived with the molestation and physical abuse in his uncles home until the age of 14 when CPS (Child Protective Services) removed him from the home.

Randy was finally able to leave his uncle's home and attempted to go back to his father's home. When Randy arrived, his father told him that he didn't want him there. Randy was only 14 years old. With no other options, and very little trust for any adult, Randy began living on the streets and was homeless at the age of 14. Randy is homeless in one of the toughest neighborhoods in San Bernardino. He sleeps in parks among gang members and drug dealers and finds food in trash cans and dumpsters.

Please consider providing a donation to YouthHope. If you would like to learn more about us, please also visit our website;

*Homeless youth criteria as defined by McKinney-Vento according to section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 1143a(2))
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Heidi Mayer 
Redlands, CA
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