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Amy’s Place Helps Whatcom’s Homeless Youth

The current economic situation in our country has prompted many people to tighten their purse strings, cutting out many of the little luxuries of life. But non-profit organizations don’t provide “luxuries” for the underprivileged in our community; they provide necessities for survival that many of us take for granted.

Amy's Place for Youth Kids of Amy’s Place for Youth with Congressman Rick Larsen.
Photo courtesy Heidi Unick

Amy’s Place for Youth, a not-for-profit organization that serves homeless youth in Whatcom County, is feeling the financial strain. Without an increase in donations from our community, Amy’s Place director Heidi Unick says that the organization will be forced to close before the holidays this year.

Amy’s Place opened in late 2006 as a drop-in center for street-involved youth. They’ve helped over a thousand different kids during the past four years.

“We’re open every Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 PM,” Heidi said in a phone interview. “We offer kids a meal and there’s also a food pantry so they can take food with them. We have hygiene supplies, sleeping bags, clothes, and shoes for kids too.” The young visitors can also hear a presentation from various local agency representatives to learn about other support programs available in our community.

Their evening programs are segregated by age. The Friday night program is open for youth ages 18 to 24, while Saturday night is open for youth age 17 and under. On average, about 25 kids visit Amy’s Place during each session; about half are new to the program and half are returners. Of the 330 youths that have attended an Amy’s Place program this year, about 80 are in a homeless situation.

Amy's Place for Youth Wrapping presents during the holidays at Amy’s Place for Youth.
Photo courtesy Heidi Unick

“Many of the youth have left abusive home situations, but are often abused on the streets as well. Our volunteers provide mentorship for the kids, so they know that we care about what happens to them,” Heidi said.

Heidi went on to explain that many of these kids are afflicted with an illness or a chemical dependence, so it’s difficult for them to get a job or stay in school. For awhile, Amy’s Place offered a Tuesday program that provided educational support, but a lack of funding and volunteers forced them to discontinue the resource.

“Securing consistent funding for Amy’s Place has been a great challenge,” said Heidi. “We are grateful for tangible donations from organizations like St. Luke’s Foundation, which donated shelving, furniture, floor coverings, and more, but if we don’t have the money for next month’s rent, we cannot continue this program.”

The community is invited to learn more about supporting Amy’s Place at an Open House on Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 PM. Visitors can take a tour, listen to a presentation about Amy’s Place, and meet the volunteers and youth of Amy’s Place. The fun and informative event will also include a Dessert Auction.

To learn more about supporting Amy’s Place with your money or time, please visit their website or call (360) 671-5567 or (360) 920-0615.

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