Granite Youth Outreach Program established for teens in needCommunity working together to bridge the gap BY AMY CODISPOTI | JOURNAL REPORTER When the Granite Falls Community Coalition was alerted to the high number of homeless youth in the Granite Falls school system, the Coalition, comprised of concerned community members, knew they had to act.
With a mission to work for a safe, healthy and drug-free community, the Coalition felt that the need to assist the local youth was one that couldn’t be overlooked. With approximately 60 homeless youth identified in the school system, the Coalition recognized that the number most likely represented only a small percentage of youth in need.
In response to the need, the Coalition came up with an idea to reach out to the youth by providing for their essential weekend needs. The concept was eagerly approved and a committee was quickly formed. The new committee’s first meeting was held on April 20, with ten attendees. At the second meeting, held on April 27, the committee chose the name: The Granite Falls Youth Outreach.
Originally, the goal was to provide the homeless youth with basic hygiene products, but local churches spread the word about the Coalition’s newest idea, generating a wide community response that has amounted to the project expanding beyond the initial goal.
The committee’s mission is to bridge the gap to meet basic needs and give hope to youth in transitional situations. The current goal is to provide each youth with a hygiene kit and a backpack every weekend which will be filled with food items and water. At the end of the week, the backpack will be returned and refilled.
The distribution of the hygiene kits has already begun and the backpack distribution will begin before summer, said committee member Cheryl Berg.
“The whole goal is to provide for these kids needs. Many of these kids just have transient housing,” said Granite Falls Community Resource Center’s director, Kim Ostman. “They’re staying with friends, in campers, in tents, things like that. We want to give them some hope.”
Ostman said that a lot of the youth don’t have microwaves or any means of cooking, so the committee is in the process of determining what food items would best serve them.
Support for the new program has been coming in from the local food bank, local churches and Kimberly Clark, who donated a variety of paper related supplies.
“I’m so encouraged by all the people who want to help,” said Ostman. “It’s exciting to see such a positive response. We’re a small community and we all work together.”
Ostman said that many people who come into the Community Resource Center want to help, and the creation of this program gives those interested people an outlet to serve.
While the program was initiated by the needs of the homeless youth in the school system, Berg said that it’s not exclusive and will offer help to all youth, regardless of whether they attend school or not.
“There are lots of kids who don’t get identified,” said Berg. “This program is open to them as well.”
If you are interested in donating to the Granite Falls Youth Outreach, contact the coalition at 360-691-1121.