Not long ago, television producer and writer Shonda Rhimes wrote a New York Times bestseller called Year of Yes, in which she reflects on the many ways saying yes positively impacted her life.
It’s difficult to believe, but one year ago New Horizons said yes to opening the Young Adult Emergency Shelter, which we’ve conveniently abbreviated to sound like a most enthusiastic agreement – YAES.
It’s a little different than Shonda’s, but this has been our Year of YAES, and saying yes to the YAES has undoubtedly made a positive impact on youth at New Horizons during the last year.
Because of your support and a partnership with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, we opened the shelter this time last year in our Drop-In Center, offering a safe, warm place to sleep five nights per week.
Though we began with 18 beds, the shelter was immediately popular, reaching capacity nearly every night once word got out among youth on the streets. After just two months we added two more beds and finally reached our current capacity of 22 beds late last year.
To celebrate our first year of emergency shelter, we collected a few highlights for you:
1. The YAES has provided a path off the streets for at least 23 young people.
Perhaps the most incredible thing your support has made possible through the YAES is that it’s provided a real path off the streets for real people. Youth who were on the streets at this time last year had few with few options for employment, housing, or school.
Thankfully, they found a place to stay and a brief respite from the streets at New Horizons. Eventually, they found much more.
For 23 youth, the YAES was the first step on their path out of homelessness.
Through the YAES, twenty-three youth learned about the Nest, our 12-bed transitional housing program. Each of them moved into the Nest, and 14 have already found permanent housing, now living completely on their own.
2. The YAES provided safety from the streets 4,146 times.
That’s 4,146 times a young person laid her head to sleep on a pillow instead of concrete. 4,146 times youth had a place to fall asleep knowing that they and their belongings were safe. 4,146 times youth could rest well and without fear before a full day of work or school.
To us, that alone is priceless.
But YAES has offered more than just sleep.
It’s been a place for 208 individual young people to have a snack, to share what’s on their mind with a trustworthy staff person, or to experience the privilege and relaxation of doing nothing but watch a movie or TV show for an hour or two, free from worry or stress.
3. YAES met an existing need for youth-specific overnight shelter beds in Seattle.
Currently, more than 850 youth are without a stable home each night in King County, and as many as 250-300 of those are on the streets with nowhere else to go.
With fewer than 100 shelter beds available to youth prior to 2016, the YAES created more opportunities for those young people to have a safe place to sleep at night.
None of us this would be possible without your continued partnership through financial gifts, volunteer hours, and prayers, so give yourself a pat on the back for a great first year of YAES at New Horizons.
We look forward to many more years of saying yes to services and programs that positively impact the lives of youth seeking to exit homelessness in Seattle. Thanks for making shelter possible for so many young people this year.
Want to partner with us to continue making a difference to homeless youth in Seattle?
1. Make a gift. A gift of $50 helps us keep the lights on (and off for a large portion of the night) during shelter for one night, in addition to helping with youth’s laundry & showers, regular upkeep of beds, and dinner and breakfast.
2. Help us fluff our pillows. We’re no five-star hotel, but we do like to keep our pillows nice for our guests – and after a year of use, ours could use a little help. If you’d like to donate a new pillow or two for youth in the YAES, click here to purchase them from our Amazon Wishlist. They’ll ship directly to our office!