Help 100 Youth Exit Homelessness in Washington DC

by Latin American Youth Center
Help 100 Youth Exit Homelessness in Washington DC

I am truly grateful for and humbled by the incredible support our local and global community has shown for our youth during this challenging year. Over the past nine months, we have seen the best of ourselves in people who have willingly given monetary support, as well as their time and words of encouragement. 

The work this past year has been a tremendous lift for our staff, who understood that we could not be unresponsive during this crisis.  "We don't like to wait around for someone else to do the work. We are going to find a way to get it done." - LAYC staff member.

It has been humbling to learn how our youth and community have been impacted by COVID-19. For example, up to 70% of homeless youth served by LAYC lost their jobs during the pandemic, hundreds of families were unable to afford rent, and thousands of clients could not meet their basic needs.

Our work has been motivated by our belief that we must hold onto hope and a strong sense of community; one of our most important roles in the lives of young people is to give them hope and assurance that they do not have to face challenges and crises alone.

We would not have been able to keep moving forward this year without the support of our community. This means every donor and volunteer who has enabled us to provide much-needed services and meet immediate needs that have exceeded anything we have seen before. 

Together we have persevered, stood by our communities, and given them hope.

Thank you for your support, for caring, and for being part of our LAYC community.

Lupi Quinteros-Grady

 

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Thanks to hundreds of generous donors, we have reached our $20,000 project goal for helping DC youth exit homelessness!
I am truly humbled by the support from our global community.

While $20,000 may seem like an inconsequential amount when compared to the enormity of the homelessness issue present in the District of Columbia, every dollar received from GlobalGiving has paid dividends through the expansive results and lasting changes that they help to affect in the lives of the youth we serve. To provide a more concrete sense of the impact GlobalGiving and hundreds of donors throughout the world have had on homeless youth in our community, I would like to share a little information about the reach of LAYC’s safe housing services and the tangible effects these services in these youths' lives.

I would like to highlight three youth who just recently exited LAYC housing programs. Each of these young people came to us at a time when they were living on the streets and needing a support system.

John: By the time he left our program in January, he had graduated from college, was employed with a local government agency, and was able to save $8,000 to to help him on his path to self-sufficiency.  He eventually moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently resides.  

Peter: By the time he left our program, he had graduated from a culinary program, was employed, and had saved $2,810. He currently lives independently in his own apartment. 

Mary: By the time she exited the program, she was employed and was able to save $8,000. She is currently living self-sufficiently.  

Quantitatively, the number of youth served by our programs is no less impressive:

Since 2012, we have served 1,675 unique youth through LAYC's Drop-In Center and Street Outreach programs. During that time, we have provided safe housing to 415 unique youth. Currently, LAYC is providing safe housing to 79 individuals and has reached 324 youth through the Drop-In Center and Street Outreach programs. Of the youth exiting LAYC's residential housing programs, 98% exit to safe and stable housing, and 85% exit to permanent housing.

The impact of your financial support of our youth is great. With guidance from LAYC staff and access to resources, our youth are able to thrive and set a new path forward for themselves that provides hope for their future. Thank you to every donor who has contributed to this campaign!

Financial support from our community is more important than ever as this global crisis continues and further challenges the availability of essential safety net services for our communities of color. Please consider supporting Latin American Youth Center’s many youth programs through our “Together for Hope - COVID-19 Response for Youth” campaign here on GlobalGiving.

With gratitude,

Lupi Quinteros-Grady

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Supply distribution
Supply distribution

In mid-March, Michelle was ready to leave LAYC’s independent living housing program. She had graduated school, secured a job, and was working diligently with her case manager on securing her first apartment. Michelle had also built a solid support system and, for the first time, genuinely felt that she was actually going to make it. 

The situation for Michelle and many more youth in our community has changed drastically since then. In just two months, the unemployment rate among our youth has increased to 62%, climbing in response to the severe economic impact COVID-19 has wrought on our communities; schools have suspended all in-person educational activities, and social distancing guidelines have further isolated our youth. This crisis has set many of our homeless and unstably housed youth back months, if not years, and they need our help more than ever. 

Responding to Immediate Needs: LAYC housing staff have launched a response to counteract the immediate impact that COVID-19 has had on the homeless youth community. We have prioritized distribution of food, masks, gloves, and communication equipment such as phones and tablets, during our early interventions. 

Staff have hand-delivered 28 tablets, and connected 81 youth to the internet to give them access to communication outlets and distance learning opportunities. In addition to meeting these tangible needs, we have focused on the mental and emotional impact this pandemic is having on our youth.

Case Management and Counseling: Our counselors have taken full advantage of technology to minimize the tangible losses that our youth have experienced and mitigate the deep psychological and emotional impact that COVID-19 has left behind. Counselors are meeting daily via video chat with clients: counselors have found that youth who have worked hard to preserve their mental health are being triggered by this crisis, specifically through traumatic exposure, increased anxiety, depressive episodes, and feelings of isolation.

Combating Food Insecurity: Case managers are also connecting youth to critical food resources. We are linking youth to SNAP benefits, food banks, meal delivery, and emergency food bags. To date, our housing staff have been able to deliver 198 food bags and 76 emergency care kits to youth in the housing programs.  Since March 21st, staff have been delivering cooked meals, breakfast and dinner, to 55 youth: that’s 110 meals per day!

Home Visitation: Our staff have put new measures in place to ensure that youth placed in our Host Homes and Foster Care Homes remain safe during this crisis. Staff conduct virtual visits for all youth in our care and, for youth remaining in vulnerable housing arrangements, such as living with friends, staff conduct in-person visits while observing social distancing guidelines.

Financial support from donors like you is more important than ever as this global crisis further challenges the availability of essential safety net services for the most vulnerable members of our community, especially youth facing homelessness.

Thank you for being a part of a critical support network for our youth and families.

All of us at LAYC wish you and those closest to you health and safety during these challenging times.

Diaper distribution
Diaper distribution
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Volunteers organize Hope's Closet
Volunteers organize Hope's Closet

Dear Friend,

Each January, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,'s legacy through the MLK Day of Service. This year's celebration, on January 20th, included events across four LAYC sites in DC and Maryland.

At LAYC’s Drop-In Center, where runaway, homeless, and unstably housed youth receive basic services, activities focused on empowering and encouraging youth to reflect on their experiences with the program and give back to their community. Organizers led a roundtable discussion on current politics and how it connects to youths’ lives.

One community partner, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), returned this year with more than 20 volunteers who donated items from the Drop-In Centers’ Amazon wish list, helped organize a clean and organize the center, and provided a resume building service for program participants.

Community partners like HRC return each year to support our housing programs because they understand the life-changing and life-saving impact of stable housing, access to resources, and connections to caring adults in the lives of young people.

This impact is best demonstrated by the words of one of LAYC’s Transitional Living Program participants:

“I entered the program five months ago, five months in which I have achieved many things, and I have met brilliant people. With the guidance of my case manager, I learned to organize my time and set goals. In this period, the program has helped me to meet many of my personal goals, such as learning another language, taking art classes, and opening to new experiences; I applied to different scholarships, and I was accepted. Now I am a freshman at Montgomery College. I know I can grow and expand my horizons, and with the help of LAYC, I don't have to worry about a place to sleep, live, or food to eat. LAYC is not only an organization that helps young people like me but, nevertheless, [staff have] become like my family, and I know that if I need something I can always count on them.”

Thank you for your continued support of our work providing life-saving services and connections that keep homeless and runaway youth safe and on a path to self-sufficiency.

With gratitude,
Lupi Quinteros-Grady

 

Volunteers provide resume building support
Volunteers provide resume building support
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Keshawn's GED graduation
Keshawn's GED graduation

This holiday season, the LAYC family is reflecting on the inspiring stories of young people who have drawn upon their own resiliency and inner strength to achieve academic and personal milestones so significant they are altering the course for the generation that follows them. Among other obstacles, many of these youth have faced homelessness and at some point in their journey. 

With your support, our young people have found belonging, dignity, and hope, which have unlocked talents and strengths that enabled them to persevere toward their goals. Keshawn is one of those youth.

When Keshawn first came to LAYC, she had assumed her background and circumstances meant she was destined for an unfortunate future. However, she was determined to fight for a happy life for herself and her newborn son. Keshawn recalls, “I didn't want to be just another statistic…a young mother who is black who dropped out, who had a kid and doesn't know anything.”

While caring for a new baby, Keshawn studied for her GED at LAYC. Even when classes were not in session, she committed to studying on her own. However, accumulating family expenses and housing needs made it hard to stay focused and see her studies through to the end.

Despite feeling depressed and wanting to give up at times, Keshawn managed to stay motivated because of her love for her son and the support of LAYC staff that checked in daily, treating her with dignity and respect and offering constant compassion and encouragement.

“So many young people are going through so many problems. We really need to have support, like someone checking in…making sure you’re ok.”

In addition, support from individuals like you helped us provide wraparound supports to Keshawn, including a program stipend, diaper donations, meals, employment connections, and family-friendly housing. This gave her the room to breathe and continue with her studies while feeling confident that she was a good mother to her son.

“[LAYC staff] helped me to see my worth…we all make mistakes. As long as you show up and keep going, and want the best for yourself, you can do it.”

Keshawn has now passed all sections of her GED and is completing professional certifications at LAYC. She feels extremely proud knowing that she persisted, and has set a course for a better future for her son. Joining many past LAYC participants, Keshawn was so touched by her experience with genuine and caring case managers that she wants to become a social worker. “I want to help people feel the way LAYC staff made me feel.” 

Unfortunately, not all young people like Keshawn feel seen, respected, or empowered to seek the resources and supports that can unlock their full potential. Through your contribution, LAYC staff can continue to provide opportunities for youth to fulfill their hopes and dreams.

On behalf of the entire LAYC family, thank you for giving the gifts of joy, dignity and hope to our youth!

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Organization Information

Latin American Youth Center

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Jamie Cotta
Washington, DC United States
$21,180 raised of $30,000 goal
 
446 donations
$8,820 to go
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