Friday night basketball games, high school proms, college applications, Monday morning math tests, and drama performances–these should be the biggest worries for youth and young adults in King County, not where they are going to sleep tonight.
Sadly, hundreds of youth and young adults are simply trying to survive in our region.
During this year’s annual effort to count youth and young adults ages 12-25 who are unstably housed, volunteers counted 131 completely unsheltered and 215 living in a homeless shelter.
Advocates estimate this number is much lower than the reality.
Here’s where New Horizons comes in. Like Youth Care and Peace for the Streets by Kids on the Streets, they are using compassion and best practices to reach young people.
This past week Alyson McLean, my Legislative Aide and I met with Mark Reynoso and Mary Steele of New Horizons. We toured New Horizons and visited with the young adults who call New Horizon’s expanded space on 3rd and Clay their temporary home in Belltown.
New Horizons offers a myriad of support services to young adults ages 18-24 including apprenticeship training at their café and roasting facility called Street Bean. (More about that below under “Apprenticeship Training”) In addition New Horizons provides:
The Nest Transitional Shelter: Provides space for 12 youth to temporarily reside 7 days a week while they search for permanent shelter. Youth share cubical style spaces and every resident has a bed and locker of their own. They also share a kitchen, a computer space, and living room area.
Young Adult Emergency Shelter: Provides 20 beds for young adults five days a week.
Evening Drop-In: Provides access to meals, showers, laundry, clothing, and sign-ups for case management and shelter to an average of 40 young adults per night.
Apprenticeship Training: Provides youth with apprenticeship jobs, which teach lifelong skills including responsibility, communications and conflict resolution. They also host Street Bean Coffee, a café employing apprentices to receive barista training. Make sure to support Street Bean Coffee and the apprenticeship programs by picking up a delicious cup of coffee at their shop on 3rd and Cedar.
Drop in Day programs: Offers yoga, music classes, and more for several hours a day.
Beyond providing shelter and food, New Horizons offers individual support and treats each young person with deep respect and care. New Horizons offers opportunities to stabilize through shelter, job training and interview prep, and dedicated case managers work to find a housing solution right for each. They empower youth to be successful and dream big.
I asked a number of the youth at New Horizons if someone could say or do something that would make a difference for them, what would that be? Their answer: talk to them. See them for who they are. They aren’t scary; they don’t want to be alone. They want to work. They want to be a part of our city. They want to share their story, to hear yours. They want to be part of our lives.
New Horizons offers opportunities for all of us to be involved. For example:
Do you have an aging-but-working cell phone with a charger? Young people need to stay connected for housing, medical treatments and job opportunities.
Want to put your cooking skills to good use? Would you cook breakfast once a month and smile at those who need a hot breakfast?
Are you a professional counselor and willing to donate some time?
Are you an employer willing to give a kid a chance? Check out other volunteer opportunities on their website here.
I’ve learned that government is PART of the answer but not THE answer. Our youth need real connections with compassionate human beings. New Horizons is a place where our community can get involved and make a difference, one young person at a time. There’s a place for you, too.