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Letter to the editor: Homeless youth

To the editor:

Members of our community, we have before us an opportunity to help a segment of our family that, prior to now, has had no safe means of support or care.

Some of you might not be aware of the plight of homeless youth in The Dalles and Wasco County. The Youth Empowerment Shelter (YES) is a home at 514 E. 9th street here in The Dalles. It is established for the temporary residence of children between the ages of 10 and 17 who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves without a place to eat, bathe or sleep. YES offers: Shelter (both physical and emotional safety), bed, bath and meals, mediation with family, community resource connections, life skills training, educational assistance and more. There are crisis counselors as well as certified mediators on the staff.

This youth homeless problem does not just affect The Dalles or Wasco County. It affects all of Oregon and the whole United States. Did you know there are an estimated 300-400 homeless and unsheltered youth in the Mid-Columbia area alone? And we are the only youth shelter organization in the region.

The Youth Empowerment Shelter is committed to meeting the needs of this under-served and vulnerable part of our community. The shelter’s plan is to come alongside these youth and their families with hope for a new future. And you can be a part of it.

We are currently operating with a skeleton crew, involving a lot of hours from some of our volunteer staff. We plan to hire additional qualified staff, but funding for wages is a challenge. We are receiving some monthly donations, supplemented by some grant funds. It would be wonderful to have a strong monthly donor base that would allow us to make staffing plans for future services.

That’s where you come in. We are asking members of our community to donate funds to the continuing operation of YES. either through a one-time donation or a continuing, month-by- month donation, the latter being the best for us. We would be overjoyed for monthly donations of $25, $50, $100 or more so that we can continue to provide safe shelter and services of hope for youth in crisis. All donations are tax deductible. Other ways you can help is by donation of food and blankets, or by volunteering to help in some way.

For more information you can go to our website: www. yeshelter.org

Dick Kessler

VP, Youth Empowerment Shelter

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