On a daily basis, Synergy’s Street Outreach team experience first-hand the increasingly alarming number of youth who are actually living on the streets or at-risk of becoming homeless. In 2009, the team made 1,980 contacts with these teens. Through the first half of 2010, the team has already made over 1,500 contacts and is expecting an 80 percent increase from last year. With the addition of the Youth Resiliency Center and the services it offers, this hidden and vulnerable population, often living in stairwells, abandoned buildings, and in unsuitable and dangerous situations, now has a shelter where these youth can find refuge from their violent and lost existence.
The Youth Resiliency Center opened on the Synergy Services Homeless Youth Campus in March of 2010 offering a strategic blend of teen-focused experiences selected to help traumatized youth develop a more positive world view. This L.E.E.D–silver certified building was intentionally and painstakingly designed to welcome this vulnerable and often wary population of runaway, homeless, and traumatized youth. From the building’s structural design, furniture, colors, artwork, on-site adolescent “medical-home” clinic, and the carefully chosen activities, every detail of the Resiliency Center was planned to eliminate the typical institutional environment and overcome the barriers that so often inhibit homeless adolescents from accessing help. The YRC includes a medical and dental clinic, a counseling center, an interactive computer laboratory, a kitchen, recreational space, showers, a laundry, and lockers where homeless youth can store their belongings. In our first year of operation, we anticipate serving a minimum of 1,000 youth who will regularly use the services of the Youth Resiliency Center including youth residing in the new Emergency Shelter and Transitional Living. Currently over 80 at-risk youth are utilizing the center weekly.
Synergy’s goal is for our new Youth Campus to be inundated with youth, while providing a special place where young people from across the community will find safety, shelter, and the wrap-around services, therapy and support needed to transform their lives. Therefore, Synergy is also currently working with metro school districts as well as other youth focused agencies to ensure that we reach the youth who need the Resiliency Center’s critical services, creative outlets, and engaging support system. With a full-service shelter and the Youth Resiliency Center, Synergy’s Homeless Youth Campus will be “A Place to Call Home and a Place to Come Home”. The campus will offer vulnerable adolescents the ongoing “connectedness” found to be necessary for their physical, emotional, and social well-being.
The summer months bring additional opportunities for programs to help teens in need of our services. Currently, our Shelter is full and maintains a waiting list.