Harvest House held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication for homeless drop-in center for young adults ages 16-24.
Harvest House and its community partners celebrated the opening of Sarasota’s first drop-in center for homeless teens and young adults on Oct. 18. The center will offer a safe gathering space for homeless youth ages16 to 24 where they can take a shower, do laundry, store belongings, charge their phones and get access to other basic needs.
“Homeless and at-risk youth are often forgotten,” said Harvest House Executive Director Erin Minor. “These young adults rarely seek help because of how intimidating it could be to wade through a complicated system. The center will be staffed with professionals who will be relatable and knowledgeable to help them find the services they need whether it's helping them with education, employment or housing.”
The center, located at the Harvest House campus on Mango Avenue, was made possible through a collaboration with Gulf Coast Community Foundation and The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. The initiative began about a year ago when Harvest House partnered with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to explore ways to address youth homelessness. According to Gulf Coast, more than 400 teens and young adults age 16 to 24 face homelessness every night in Sarasota County.
The center builds upon Harvest House’s homeless youth services which include an emergency shelter for young women and transitional housing.
Harvest House recently formed a Youth Action Board made up of homeless or previously homeless youth who shared their insight on the types of services they most needed and also helped design and decorate the center. Harvest House repurposed one of its properties to be used as the drop-in location.
“I want those who will be using the center to be able to come here and feel safe and comfortable,” said Daryll Williams, president of the Youth Action Board. “When I go home, I take my shoes off, I sit down and I'm relaxed. I want them to feel that way here. It’s exciting to see the fruits of our labor come together.”
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees got the chance to tour the drop-in center and hear from local officials and other community members involved with the project.
“For years, the homeless in our community have heard words and promises, but today we are seeing action and movement,” said Sarasota City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie. “Homeless youth do not fall into homelessness not because of faults of their own. They do not choose homelessness but they do have a future.”