Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

On April 8th Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen joined us to celebrate the completion of our brand new 6.72 kW solar system. Half of the system was donated by Northwest Electric & Solar, the contractor for the Solarize Kirkland campaign, as a way to thank the community for supporting a successful campaign to increase the use of solar energy in Kirkland.

“It’s been great to work with the community of
Kirkland to bring the Solarize Kirkland campaign to my hometown,” said Derek White, President and CEO of Northwest Electric & Solar. “This is just a small token of our gratitude for the support the
community has given us and we are happy to make a difference for such a worthy nonprofit organization.”

Friends of Youth invested an additional amount to double the size of the solar array.

Our new solar panels create a renewable energy source for our administration building, shrinking our carbon footprint and allowing us invest the savings on our electric bill in the children, youth, and families
we serve.

Solar panels being installed on Friends of Youth Administrative building

Solar panels going up

Read Full Post »

terry

Friends of Youth CEO Terry Pottmeyer (left) leads a small group discussion about youth and young adult homelessness following a panel presentation.

 

Officials and service providers gave an overview of how the homeless response system is progressing at a breakfast session presented by the Eastside Human Services Forum on June 6. In response to new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies and more research about solutions to homelessness, local responses and programs are changing and focusing on what is proven to work.

The homelessness continuum of care established by HUD in 1987 is being updated in light of new research about the most effective ways to end homelessness.

The new system emphasizes rapid access to permanent supportive housing, improving stability at a decreased cost.  Research has found that smaller units scattered and integrated in communities also are effective in quickly addressing homelessness.

The new goal of the HUD Hearth Act is for no one to be homeless for more than 30 days. In granting funding for housing programs, Housing and Urban Development officials will look beyond just the effectiveness of specific projects, evaluating how a community’s entire homeless response system functions. Gathering and analyzing data about what works to prevent and address homelessness is a key part of the national strategy. Programs will be judged for how they reduce new homeless episodes, returns to homelessness and duration of homeless episodes. Systems need to be nimble to meet changing needs in the community, such as the impacts of an economic recession.

For youth and young adults, homeless response efforts target prevention of homelessness through policies such as extended foster care, emergency responses such as Safe Place, and providing life skills, education and employment support as key for independent living. Friends of Youth believes that transitional housing, which teaches young adults how to be independent and self-sufficient, remains the most effective and developmentally appropriate housing solution for young adults.

One of the important needs that surfaced during the discussion among Eastside officials and service providers was for awareness and training about how to respond to homeless youth, adults and families asking for help. The Eastside has many resources to share, but still lacks enough capacity to serve all the needs. It will take more collaboration among human services agencies, schools, government, businesses and the faith community to reach the goal of a home for everyone.

Learn more about what action steps you can take at www.eastsideforum.org

Read Full Post »

During a challenging legislative session this spring, one thing brought senators and representatives together in Olympia: kids.

 

Both houses expressed empathy for the plight of children in the state’s foster care system who age out on their 18th birthday, like fledglings pushed out of the nest before learning to fly.

 

For young people who have experienced years of trauma and upheaval during the most vulnerable stages of their growth, turning 18 and losing all of their resources and support systems overnight can be devastating. Eighteen years old may be the arbitrary age of adulthood under the law, but that birthday doesn’t magically turn a teen-ager into a self-sufficient adult.

 

Lawmakers recognized these challenges with overwhelming approval of the Extended Foster Care bill. It acknowledges the “disproportionate likelihood that youth aging out of foster care and those who spent several years in care will experience poor outcomes in a variety of areas, including limited human capital upon which to build economic security and inability to fully take advantage of secondary and postsecondary educational opportunities, untreated mental or behavioral health problems, involvement in the criminal justice and corrections systems, and early parenthood combined with second-generation child welfare involvement.”

 

The bill expands the eligibility pool for extended foster care, for youth between age 18 and 21, to provide “access to adequate and appropriate supports during the period of transition from foster care to independence.”

 

Advocates estimate that as many as 70 percent of the youth aging out of foster care at 18 without adequate resources now will be eligible for up to three more years of support. Newly eligible are those who are:

  • Attending college or vocational classes, or
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to getting a job

 

One important provision that foster care providers and advocates pushed for was included in the final version. It requires the state Department of Social and Health Services to notify every foster child about the new availability of extended foster care, including detailed information about the benefits they might qualify for by the time they reach the age of 17-and-a-half.

 

We know the cost of renting an apartment in King County, or even just a room, is prohibitively high for young people working part-time at a minimum-wage job. When you have to decide between paying tuition or rent, education often gets left behind. This early notification will help young people make the choices that will help them succeed in education and training after aging out.

 

Friends of Youth is a first-hand witness to the gaps in the system and the young people who have struggled without a sturdy bridge from foster care to adulthood. The lucky ones find their way to shelter and transitional housing programs, such as Friends of Youth’s programs, along with health care, opportunities for continuing education and even preparation for a job. Those who aren’t so lucky may resort to life on the street, sometimes turning to criminal activity for food or self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Products of the foster care system are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and in our homeless shelters.

 

Perhaps the most exciting part about this new state emphasis on extending foster care support is the agreement by the Legislature to allocate new funding for services. More than $3 million over two years will go toward helping foster youth transition to independence. It may not cover all the need, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Read Full Post »

Tyler’s Story

Graduation-Cap-and-Diploma

As teens and young adults prepare for spring graduations, we are celebrating a very special young person and his graduation from Friends of Youth. Here is Tyler’s story.

When Tyler first came to Friends of Youth, he had been couch surfing for years while trying both to graduate from Mount Si High School and to look for work. After he lost his access to friends’ couches, he tried sleeping in a tent in the woods. But when it got too cold, he got on a bus and headed for Bellevue and Friends of Youth’s emergency shelter for young adults, The Landing. Without the help he found at The Landing, Tyler would have had no other option but to remain in the woods, cold and hungry.

Instead, he found a welcoming staff, warm meals cooked by volunteers, and a safe place to sleep and recover from the stress of being homeless before talking to counselors about the full range of housing, treatment and employment programs offered at Friends of Youth. 

Born in Seattle, Tyler’s family moved to Illinois, where he spent most of his childhood. But after his father died, his mother left her twin sons with their grandmother. Eventually, that got to be too much for her, and Tyler and his brother moved back to Washington state to live with their mother in North Bend. Tyler and his brother were 17 years old and attending Mount Si High School when they were kicked out of the house. He still is not sure what happened.

A friend and his single mother took Tyler in and let him sleep on a couch while he finished high school. That proved to be difficult while his life was so unstable, and many times he thought about quitting school. But he persevered, keeping up with vocational classes he enjoyed so much.

“It was one of my dad’s wishes that we should graduate from high school,” Tyler said, and he is very proud of that diploma and how it honors the memory of his father.

After high school, Tyler tried to find a job, but with little work experience and few entry-level job openings during the recession, he didn’t have much luck. Facing touch financial times, his friends were not able to continue providing a place for him. He tried camping in the woods for a while, but that experience convinced him to try a resource he had learned about from a counselor in Snoqualmie.

 At The Landing, Friends of Youth staff helped Tyler sort out his needs. They were able to find him a space in one of the non-profit organization’s 80-plus housing units, New Ground Kirkland, for single adults ages 18-21. Through supportive case management services at New Ground, Tyler found a job and started work in September 2012 at Little Caesar’s pizza restaurant in Bellevue. He proved to be such a diligent worker that within a month, he was promoted to a managerial position there.

“I make sure everything is being expedited properly and make sure no old pizzas go out. They have to be fresh,” Tyler said. “I also resolve complaints and issues when a customer has a problem.”

At age 22, Tyler has just “graduated” from Friends of Youth programs. His “diploma” is the satisfaction of moving into his own apartment. Tyler now is sharing a three-bedroom place in Everett with his older brother and his brother’s girlfriend. The commute on the bus to his job is going to be long, but he has arranged to split his work schedule with the store in Mill Creek, which comes with a much shorter commute.

“It feels amazing to have a place of my own,” Tyler said, when less than a year ago he was homeless. “It’s a lot of paperwork you have to go through, though, to get an apartment,” and that is what makes  the assistance of Friends of Youth programs so valuable in helping young people achieve self-sufficiency.

At the same time, he is concerned about his twin brother, who didn’t choose to get help from Friends of Youth and still sleeps in his car in North Bend.

For Tyler, the guidance and encouragement he found at Friends of Youth made all the difference. “Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it this far without getting help from Friends of Youth.”

More information about how to support Friends of Youth’s shelters and transitional housing programs is available at http://www.friendsofyouth.org/giveNonCashItems.aspx and at http://www.friendsofyouth.org/donateNow.aspx.

Read Full Post »

IMG_7769

Board Chair Phil Crocker

We welcomed dozens of old friends and new neighbors to our new Youth Services Center in Kirkland on Friday, March 29, 2013, as we unveiled the new “heart” for our organization. Our newly painted facility, surrounded by just-planted  trees and landscaping, is the result of years of planning, fund-raising and design work. Now home to counseling and housing support programs, administrative offices, meeting spaces and storage for donated program supplies, the facility is the first phase of a campus development that soon will include a new Youth Haven home for ages 11-17 as well as new transitional housing.

The idea for our campus first was discussed at a board meeting in April of 2010. The idea gathered momentum with the 2011 creation of a new Strategic Plan for the agency, putting special emphasis on consolidating and enhancing programs and services for homeless youth. Consolidation of services and expanded capacity at a new multi-service campus allows us to respond comprehensively to the homeless youth on the Eastside.

In January 2012, Friends of Youth completed the purchase of our 1.7-acre property in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland. Large enough to accommodate our administrative offices, a comprehensive service center, and housing, this campus is key to our strategy for providing youth a way off the street.

The campus is on a well-traveled arterial, increasing community awareness of our services ― and, we hope, community involvement in our mission. The residential neighborhood helps us create a safe, homelike environment for our kids.

We selected a local firm, Lewis Architects, to help us create our vision for an open, colorful, engaging design that complements the neighborhood while embodying our core values.

Following a ground-breaking ceremony in June 2012, the former Grace Chapel building was transformed into a warm and welcoming facility. Wood siding in a rainbow of colors and a colorful kinetic sculpture draws the eye of passersby. A brick courtyard with benches, flagpole and colorful plantings welcomes youth and visitors at the front entrance. Inside, the warmth of wood combined with soft colors creates a calm and homelike atmosphere. Soaring walls of glass open the southeast corner of the building to the street intersection as well as to the rising sun.

Public officials, colleagues from many human services agencies, and local residents in the neighborhood gathered for a first look and personal tours our new home at a March Open House reception. Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride, a former staff member at Friends of Youth, welcomed the organization to Kirkland. King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert congratulated Friends of Youth on their commitment to fully address youth homelessness on the Eastside.

Friends of Youth CEO Terry Pottmeyer thanked and recognized the partners who brought the new facility to life: Lewis Architects, Scott Construction and Common Ground Affordable Housing Solutions. Friends of Youth Board Chair Phil Crocker thanked donors and supporters who have contriubted to the capital campaign to build the Kirkland Campus. The campaign continues as we work to raise $7.5 million to complete the new “heart” of Friends of Youth.

We look forward to partnering with the community to ensure safe places, caring support and healthy relationships for every young person in our care.

Read Full Post »

Safe Place

PrintIt has been 30 years since the first Safe Place Program began as a way to get kids off the street and safe from cold, hunger, predators, violence and abuse. Safe Place was envisioned as a way to provide access to immediate help and supportive resources to young people in crisis through a community network of sites sustained by qualified agencies, trained volunteers and businesses. The success of Safe Place depends on partnerships among people who care about youth and want to help the young people in their own community.

In King County, Friends of Youth collaborates with YouthCare in Seattle and Auburn Youth Resources in South King County, as each agency provides youth services in different parts of the county. Safe Place coordinates youth service agencies with local community sites that are easily accessible to young people. Youth may enter designated Safe Places, with the posted distinctive yellow diamond logo near the entrance, and ask for help. Trained site staff members connect the youth to King County Safe Place for assistance.

King County Metro Transit was the first community site to join the effort, creating more than1,200 mobile sites on buses throughout the county. Bus operators daily serve on the front lines in the community, helping commuters and solving problems, so they were happy to be able to offer a new tool for helping young people in trouble.  A youth need only ask the bus driver about a safe place. That simple request sets in motion a coordinated response, with the bus driver contacting the dispatch center by radio and dispatch contacting the on-call Safe Place responder. Within 45 minutes, a staff member from one of the three partner agencies will meet the bus at a specific location to connect the youth to community resources or emergency shelter.  The Safe Place response system is available 24 hours a day.

On any given night, the One Night Count  estimates that as many as 960 youth in King County have no safe place to sleep. In a 2008 study by the City of Seattle, “Who Pays the Price? Assessment of Youth Involvement in Prostitution in Seattle,” it was estimated that 300-500 children in King County under the age of 18 are sexually exploited each year. That’s a troubling statistic, particularly when combined with estimates that one in three runaways will be approached by sexual predators within 48 hours on the street. That is where the Safe Place program can intervene as a quick connection to shelter and services that reaches out into the community, wherever young people find themselves in need.

The initial idea for a Safe Place system for King County was coordinated by King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert and brought together a number of potential supporters and partners. Laurie Jackson, Executive Director of National Safe Place, and National Safe Place Organizational Advancement Director Susan Harmon traveled to King County from the national headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

Upon its launch on Aug. 31, 2011, King County Safe Place became the only  Safe Place network in Washington State. One year later, it already was one of the busiest networks in the nation, with more than 45 young people accessing the system within the first 10 months.

After Metro, King County libraries were the next community sites to join the network. The first day that the libraries posted the Safe Place signs, a teenage boy walked into the Issaquah Library and approached a librarian for help. Safe Place [ab1] was able to respond and, ultimately, helped him reunite with his family.

In 2012, United Way of King County provided new support and attention for the Safe Place program with a grant to support the response team while expanding outreach efforts to more youth and community sites. Additional community facilities already used by teens are joining the effort, and businesses also are being recruited to participate.

Friends of Youth is proud to be among the 140 youth agencies across the country that host the Safe Place program in more than 1,500 communities in 41 states and the District of Columbia. More information about Safe Place is available at http://www.friendsofyouth.org/safeplace.aspx and at www.nationalsafeplace.org.


Read Full Post »

As the rainy and cold winter approaches, Carolann Joy Salon, a local boutique salon located in Redmond, has generously offered to help the youth we serve, for the second year in a row, by holding a “Give Warmth Coat Drive.” The salon will be accepting donations of new and gently used coats through December 3rd. “Your donated coats don’t have to be brand new; gently used coats are welcome. Other types of outwear are acceptable and appreciated, like sweaters, jackets and sweatshirts. Even blankets, hats or gloves could help someone stay warm this season.”

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month; this drive couldn’t come at a better time. We are so grateful for the involvement and support of local businesses like Carolann Joy Salon and thank them for their generosity.

 

If you have warm clothing or coats to donate, Carolann Joy Salon is located at 8366 164th Ave. NE, Redmond, WA 98052. They are open seven days a week but their hours vary depending on appointments made. However, they will leave a large plastic bin outside their door if you happen to stop by while they are on their break.

 

Check out their blog for more information! And if you have any questions or want to make sure they will be there when you can drop off your items you can reach them at 425-577-6232 or hair@carolannjoy.com

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »