"I saw a flyer that said ‘Free Food’ and my step dad wasn’t allowing me to eat at home so I came"
There are so many reasons for a youth to need support; no food in the house or for them, no computer, no place to wash their clothing, no basic hygiene products, no way to get around town to get to school, nobody in their court, no friends that aren’t dangerous, no place to sleep. All these reasons and so many more bring youth to the door of our Drop In Center. Often youth will come to the drop in center to ‘check us out’ before taking a chance on staying with us.
The atmosphere is low key, stress reducing with a TV often chattering in the background but it is while the TV is on that much of the deep conversation takes place and through the board games that remain an important part of many days.
For many youth the support at the drop in center means they have a safe place to hang out until they are allowed to come into the couch where they are staying or home after the worst of the fighting is over for the night. Many youth keep coming for years, receiving the only caring direction and support anywhere in their lives.
The Drop In Center offers an amazing list of supports and services for youth that are just part of the climate and landscape of their time there. Free dinner every night at 5, free computers and printers, free hygiene products, basic clothing, school supplies, blankets. There are free washer and dryer and laundry products, snacks, books.
Staff provides job support, help with applications, help getting back in school, help with any legal issue including finding a safe place to live, workshops on a side variety of issues, GBLTQ and trans, healthy relationships, exploitation, meditation, yoga, financial literacy, self esteem.
Needs less visible but often the most critical receive support through the center having a therapist to talk to, mentors to form long term relationships of support – an invaluable and precious resource for some youth, and case management to help them access any other program or service that will help them on their way.
Finally, community is included through volunteers that committed to cooking dinner once a month.