OLYMPIA —Community Youth Services (CYS) announced today that with the public’s help they have been able to raise the funds necessary to keep their young adult shelter open. Last week, CYS sought public help to fill a funding gap to keep their young adult shelter open through the summer. CYS has operated a young adult shelter in downtown Olympia since 2013 to provide overnight refuge to some of Thurston County’s most vulnerable young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years old.
“I have been absolutely amazed with the depth and breadth of public support for our young people in this community. It’s not every place that could raise $50,000 in a week. Going into this fund-raising effort, I had some doubts it was doable. Not only were our supporters responsive, but they blew us away in their generosity. …From individuals who gave $10 to churches and organizations that gave us several thousands, we saw giving in its purest form, people hearing about a need and stepping up to fill it,” said Scott Hanauer, CEO at Community Youth Services. The 46-year-old social service agency had a $50,000 goal, and was able to meet that goal due to generous donations from the Chehalis Tribe, First United Methodist Church, South Sound Community Foundation and a $20,000 match grant from Help Us Move In Inc. (HUMI) and a multitude of individual donors.
The organization began operating the shelter when the need for a young adult shelter became apparent. “While there are a handful of grants available for shelter services, the competition amongst the local shelters has spread the money thin to where it has not been enough to keep the shelter open year round,” added Hanauer. The facility has been sheltering young people at full capacity every night for months. Hanauer states that “it is important to note that 80 percent of the young people who access our young adult shelter are from this local region.” In the month of May, the Young Adult Shelter saw a 28 percent increase of young people compared to May of 2015. The next three months are projected to slightly increase, “which is expected with the numbers we are already seeing and knowing the summer months are some of the busiest at the shelter,” Hanauer added. The CYS Young Adult Shelter is the only overnight facility for homeless youth and dedicated shelter facility for young adults ages 18-24 in Thurston County. The shelter is important because research has shown that this age group does not access mass adult shelters due to young adults getting victimized by older adults and increased exposure to drugs and criminal behavior. They, too, are also frequently full. However, being on the streets with no safe place to be at night is even more dangerous. “Just one night with no safe place to be increases the likelihood of mental health problems, substance abuse, and victimization by older adults. Being on the streets also means young people are more likely to stop going to school or to work or to stay involved in other support services,” Hanauer said. “We know by keeping the shelter open, we are helping to keep downtown Olympia safe with less people sleeping in front of businesses, less open drug use and less public violence.”
The Charles Shelan Brighter Futures Youth Center, which is where the young adult shelter is located, also includes Rosie’s Place, a daytime drop-in center for the homeless youth that contains a clothing bank, hygiene supplies and a dining area for lunch, Monday through Friday. There is also case management available to help keep these youth off the streets by helping them secure housing, find a job, get an education or get other help (medical, dental, mental health, etc.). Having the Young Adult Shelter provides a link to the homeless youth to these services and improves the lives of those young people experiencing homelessness. The CYS Board, staff and youth would like to thank all of those who stepped up and made a donation to help sustain these essential services until other funding sources become available September 1. “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you! This is another example of how great our communities are; the support from everyone through this has been unrivaled,” Hanauer said.