Outreach and Basic Needs: First Steps to Safety

YouthCare Street Outreach

YouthCare serves thousands of this community’s homeless youth every year.

Only a small fraction are safely off the streets, preparing for life in housing with us or elsewhere. Another fraction are still on the streets but already moving forward with education, employment training, and other services. For the vast majority, however, current funding allows us to provide only basic needs: meals, clothing, supplies, a safe place to rest before heading out again — along with advice, referrals, and the hope of reaching the next level of services.

Any of those 700-1,000 out there tonight may end up sleeping under a bridge, in a doorway, in an abandoned house, under a bush, or in any manner of unsafe place. They may be alone or with a friend. They may crash at a “friend’s” — in return for who knows what. They might not sleep at all: they'll walk all night, or keep still, trying to avoid trouble and waiting for dawn.

Tomorrow, they can come to the James W. Ray Orion Center (the “O.C.” to some, or Orion), at Denny and Stewart. YouthCare is known on the street, and many find their way to us through word of mouth. Others are referred or brought in. Meanwhile, our Outreach professionals are out there days and nights, keeping an eye out for new arrivals while they reconnect with young people they already know.

Back at Orion, there are those who come in every day, and those we don't see for weeks. Each time, we're glad to see them: there are so many who just disappear.