John is a 16 year old boy from Newport. His parents are alcoholics. He has been the victim of neglect, abuse and violence. He left home with a sleeping bag and now sleeps with friends when he can. When that fails he sleeps under the bridge, in cars and in empty buildings. He scavenges for food in garbage cans and dumpsters. He wants to stay in school, but is concerned every day about where he will sleep.Jane is 15, her mother was recently incarcerated; her father left years ago. She has no place to stay and no one to watch out for her. She is struggling to stay in school but has no money for fees or school supplies, such as notebooks and pens. She needs grid paper, protractor and a calculator for her math classes. She would love to take an art class but has no way to get the necessary art supplies. Gym class is another problem because she doesn’t own the appropriate gym clothing, non-scuff shoes, underwear or personal hygiene products.These two are representative of the 106 homeless and at risk teenagers in Pend Orielle county. They are victims, not criminals, and are in this intolerable situation through no fault of their own.Youth Emergency Services (YES) in Newport is helping many of these young people find stable, safe environments, providing them with clothing, meal cards, medical and dental attention when needed. Mostly they let these, our children, know they are valuable, and will be cared for to the best of our ability. YES kids must be enrolled in school, be drug and alcohol free and are not dependents of WA state. YES believes that every child has the right to be loved, respected and live in an environment free from violence, drugs exploitation and other harmful behaviors.
Are you willing to help?? Donations are needed of winter clothing, boots, shoes, toiletries, underwear, sox, towels, and bedding. Money for meal tickets is needed. Volunteers are needed for fund raising, office help, transportation to medical and dental appointments, laundry, sewing, and cleaning. Your church or organization could commit to providing necessities for these young people who are struggling to stay in school. The next time you are shopping, add a package of underwear to your basket or a pack of sox. Remember them when cleaning out your closet.
Temporary host families are needed to provide a safe place while permanent placement is being sought. Host families generally take these children into their homes from 1-3 weeks. A stipend is available if needed and staff is available 24/7 for any problems or concerns. Longtime Newport resident Lois Langdon has had several of these at-risk young people in her home. “They arrive hungry, dirty and usually bruised. They are not on drugs or alcohol, this is an example of parents failing their children.” She further said she sees our job, as members of a caring community, to help prepare them for the future, which they have not had an opportunity to experience, living from day to day as they have done. They also must be taught good hygiene and manners. The only negative experience she has ever had in all her years of providing a safe refuge was when it was time for them to leave, it was heart-wrenching.
If you would like to help, either as a volunteer or a temporary host family, please attend a meeting Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. at Rotary Building at Rotary Park in Oldtown. If you are unable to attend this meeting, please contact YES.
Donations can be dropped off at YES in Newport at 316 W. 2nd Street. Call (509) 447-1125 for further info.