Volunteers of America has resources for homeless youth
SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of Utah’s homeless youth are not only facing hunger, but are experiencing homelessness. Volunteers of America is a program that aims to promote and spread awareness for the more vulnerable people in our community.
As a part of Utah Gives Back presented by Select Health, The Director of Youth Homeless Services, Cydnie Lacour, joined Thursday’s program of Dave and Dujanovic to discuss what kinds of basic needs her facility provides for displaced teens.
Homeless youth with addiction issues
Aside from food items, clothing, and three hot meals a day, they also have resources for teens who are dealing with addiction issues.
“Some of them do struggle with substance use so we have clinicians that can meet with them and just try to have that support there for them.”
Lacour told Dave and Dujanovic that our youths are victims of circumstances. And that these kids need help from the community in order to overcome issues they face at home or on the streets. It’s a very different demographic than adults experiencing homelessness. And its very much due to a lack of support at home.
“We are making efforts and strides to address this homeless situation earlier,” Lacour said.
Their youth resource building addresses the simple needs of those 15-23 who are at risk, or experiencing homelessness.
She wishes that people knew they are the victims of their circumstances. “It’s up to the community to rally around and support them.”
Several ways to help the program
There are multiple ways to volunteer for the program, and to aid in giving resources.
“Community is the backbone with everything we do,” said Ki Cable, director of Community Engagement. “Volunteers are our core.”
Volunteers are aided to provide and serve meals for affected youth. They are also used to aid and organize their donation room, providing clothes, hygiene products and other miscellaneous items for those in need.
Another option for volunteers? Running groups and classes. Youth experiencing homelessness have interests and hobbies just like anyone else does.
COVID-19 has effected aiding efforts, but Cable remains hopeful that more people will continue to step in.
What more can be done to address homelessness in this capacity?
“Our focus is to get these youths in off the streets and give them a safe place, and then move them into community housing,” said Kathy Bray, CEO of Volunteers of America. She said they have a lot of services for these affected children and teens, including one on one meetings with staff. And resources to help them finish high school and continue their education.”
What does she wish listeners knew about the youth in our community? There are many different reasons why someone could become homeless.
“Family disruptions, death in the family or divorce, someone coming out,” Bray said.
This doesn’t mean it’s all hopeless.
“They are vulnerable, and we can help them,” Bray said.
For more information on how you can volunteer for this program, visit the link here.