IMPACT

Denver Youth Shelter Aims to Prevent Adult Homelessness

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With the rise in youth homelessness, it is more important than ever that shelters and resources are available to take in runaways and kids displaced by rough family situations. Urban Peak, the only licensed youth shelter in Denver, is making it possible for young adults like Eric Wilson, 20, to finish their GEDs.

The Denver Post reports:

The shelter's mission starts with the basics -- providing warmth, safety and food for homeless, runaway, at-risk youths, ages 14 to 24 -- and extends to job and education assistance. From providing hats, gloves and simple hygiene to GED preparation and job training, Urban Peak meets a range of needs with the long-range goal of avoiding chronic adult homelessness.

With the help of Urban Peak, 250 youths have completed their GEDs this year. Wilson's unstable home life and a fight with his mother led to a stint on the streets, living in a sleeping bag behind a trash container. Fortunately, a good Samaritan brought Wilson to Urban Peak, where staff members worked with Wilson to get him back on track.

Food, shelter and motivation are supplied to those in need, as well as help and support for substance abuse and mental health problems. A resident doctor and case managers on staff ensure that the teens are maintaining their health through flu vaccines and preventative care. Job training programs, scholarships and financial aid are also available. In 2008, 54% of the youth helped by Urban Peak were able to move forward and stop living on the streets permanently.

So far this year, 398 kids have found overnight shelter and 530 have received day services at Urban Peak. An average of 41 young people fill the beds each night, up from 29 per night last year. More than 20,000 meals have been served by staffers and community volunteers.

November is Homeless and Runaway Youth Awareness Month, so help change a life with a donation to Urban Peak here.

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