Youth shelter filling a need: Yavapai House is the only shelter serving the county's homeless youths
Yavapai County's homeless teens can find a bed and so much more at the new Yavapai House Youth Shelter.
The shelter, located in a beautiful residential home at 9905 E. Catalina Drive in Prescott Valley, hosted an open house Tuesday to spread the word. The event was open to the general public, as well as juvenile justice providers, social workers, educators and those in the field of health care.
Yavapai House provides transitional shelter for up to five young people ages 12 through 17 for up to 30 days, explained program coordinator Laurie DiLorenzo.
While there, the residents learn to cook for themselves, clean the kitchen and do laundry. They also receive financial literacy training and instruction on job-hunting skills, including how to interview and write a resume.
"The kids leave with a skill set," DiLorenzo said. "Everything is about life skills training."
They even learn food safety standards stricter than those employed in home kitchens.
"They learn things it took me 40 years to learn," she joked.
Yavapai House is the only youth shelter serving all of Yavapai County. It supports local agencies such as West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, Juvenile Detention and Child & Family Services, as well as schools with children in crisis at risk of running away or becoming homeless.
The shelter is funded by the Department of Health & Human Services/Family Youth Services Bureau and the Administrative Offices of the Courts. Tucson-based nonprofit CODAC Behavioral Health Services administers the grants that allow the shelter to serve area youths.
The house was carefully chosen: bedrooms for boys and girls are on opposite sides of the house, separated by the common areas of the living room and kitchen. A staff member is present 24/7, but no one lives on-site.
"It's one of the nicest shelters I've ever been in," said homeless advocate Daniel Mattson, who attended the open house.
Since it opened in October 2014, the shelter has housed roughly 25 young people, DiLorenzo said.
DiLorenzo also manages the Transitional Living Program, which provides support for those age 16 to 21 living on their own. The program serves Yavapai and Coconino counties - a geographical equivalent of Rhode Island, she said.
"I love what I do and I love what we're able to provide," DiLorenzo said.
What the shelter provides is something Mattson said is desperately needed.
"It's vital to have one," he said, adding that he'd like to see it expand to have twice as many beds. "People in the area need to support this organization, because we desperately need its services."
Yavapai House will gladly accept donations, DiLorenzo said.
The shelter is low on linens and can always use donations of nonperishables, she said, explaining that the food budget is small.
Another thing in short supply is opportunities for the residents to get out of the house and do things, such as bowling. Especially for young people who have been through crises, opportunities to "just be kids" are invaluable, she said.
Follow Arlene Hittle on Twitter @ahittle_dc. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2036, or 928-830-2928.