By Rosemary Gray, Charity Coordinator, Alameda County DCSS
Homelessness is a growing crisis, especially in the Bay Area where the cost of living is high and affordable housing is scarce. One group often overlooked in discussions about this crisis is homeless youth. Each night in Alameda County alone, approximately 1,500 to 3,000 disconnected youth ages 13-18 are without shelter. They are left to fend for themselves, often sleep deprived and malnourished. These children are highly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, violence, and abuse.
Each year the Child Support Directors Association (CSDA) raises funds to help support a non-profit charity selected by the incoming CSDA president. This year’s incoming CSDA president, Phyllis P. Nance, has selected an organization focused on helping a neglected population: homeless teens. This organization is DreamCatcher Youth Services. Their mission “to provide safety so that at-risk youth can create a future” perfectly aligns with CSDA’s purpose and mission of advocating to support California’s families and transforming the lives of children.
Delelo is one of the teenagers that DreamCatcher has helped. He was denied a bed at his father’s house so Delelo slept on the floor every night. His father kicked Delelo out at age 17. With no other options available, he slept in a park at night. Recounting the experience, Delelo says, “I was never so scared in all my life.” He quickly connected with DreamCatcher Youth Services, where he found shelter and support. The staff helped Delelo secure housing and job training within a few short months.
Delelo represents just one of the thousands of disconnected ‘high risk’ youth. These are the vulnerable, largely invisible members of our society that DreamCatcher Youth Services has served since 2000. It is the only emergency shelter in Alameda and surrounding Bay Area counties specifically for teens ages 13–18. DreamCatcher is a place of refuge and opportunity. Approximately 90% of DreamCatcher Youth Services participants move directly into stable housing, further education, and/or employment. 1
From now until May 2019, we have an opportunity to help DreamCatcher to reach and serve more homeless children. As we kick off our fundraising efforts toward the goal of $100,000, our hope is that we can count on you to donate, participate, and support our fundraising efforts. Your generous donation can help DreamCatcher Youth Services increase their service capacity and help ensure that our homeless youth have the tools and resources they need to escape the streets. For more information or to arrange a donation, please contact Rosemary at 925-468-9255 or Rosemary.Gray@acgov.org.
Please stay tuned for updates on our DreamCatcher Youth Services Campaign
- January 2019 – Nika’s Place, A Refuge in the Rough
- March 2019 – Helping Homeless Youth Have Hope