Covenant House - Youth Resource Center
Program Area: Health and Human Services
Grants Received: 2002: $171,700; 2001:$ 121,000; 2000: $5,000; 1999: $7,100; 1997: $7,000; 1994: $10,000; 1992: $5,000; 1991: $2,000.
Homeless and runaway children are a vulnerable population. Without family support or education, many kids lose hope. Until 1988, homeless youth in Anchorage had little help to rise above the many obstacles in their lives. When the Crisis Center, Covenant House's first Alaska program, opened its doors, so did the doors of opportunity for the youth of Anchorage. Covenant House operates with a mission to "serve the suffering children of the streets," they believe that "through love, understanding, and patience, the kids [they] serve will flourish."
In 1997, Covenant House purchased the Daughters of St. Paul Convent to house the Youth Resource Center (YRC), a new program focused on providing daytime outreach and support. The YRC is open to kids ages 13-20 and provides most resources kids need to reassure and motivate them to leave a life on the streets. Programs offered at the YRC include job development, counseling, Title 1 educational classes, as well as life-skills workshops. In addition to the programs, nutrition and medical services are available to all YRC patrons.
The YRC was an immediate success; the open-door policy gave kids the ability to control their own routine while accessing the various amenities available. As demand for YRC services grew, Covenant House searched for ways to expand. Ideal in size, but not function, a cluttered 3,400 square foot storage basement awaited a mass reconstruction. Without ventilation, plumbing, or proper lighting, turning the basement into a sanguine recreational space would take time and support from the community as well as Covenant House staff. Through fundraisers, corporate, and government sponsorship, the renovation of the basement began in the fall of 2002.
By March 17, 2003, the major transformation was complete. The result was not only an activity room- with a foosball table and computers; but also a kitchen, health clinic, and office space. Most importantly, Monday through Saturday, an average of 60 kids each day call the YRC home. Covenant House requested the help of the YRC patrons for the interior decorating ideas. The brilliant colors and full-spectrum lighting bring warmth to the Center regardless of season. "Covenant House Alaska keeps kids off the street. When it's a rainy day, you don't have to sleep on the bench and go hungry . . . " said a YRC client.
Alison Kear, Director of Development, believes the Youth Resource Center is a "viable link to the community . . . we partner, give them space, and they access it." Local businesses volunteer to provide employment seminars and teach appropriate interview etiquette. In turn, YRC youth provide those businesses with employees driven to overcome a life on the streets, and become self-sustaining, highly productive members of society.