Through it’s Ark Services for Youth, Catholic Charities personally met and talked with more than 2,500 youth who were in crisis, precariously housed, or facing homelessness over the past year. These youth came to us with a variety of challenges. Each came with unique strengths and abilities and each had unique needs. Each youth came from a variety of diverse communities across the nine county region we serve. Each had unique social situations, families, demographics, economic situations, disabilities, and some even had different languages. Yet every one of the 2,500 individual youth we served during the past 12 months had one major thing in common: they needed the unique, specialized services that only The Ark could offer.
As a direct result of the growing need in our communities, we are pleased to announce that The Ark Services for Youth will be working hard to increase its accessibility in 2013. A key part of this is a major expansion of our Drop-In Services. For the past year, youth could “drop-in” the Van Domelen Center (1441 South Westnedge) on Monday afternoons from 3 PM to 5 PM and receive prompt services to help them deal with a variety of issues. In addition, the youth could get a healthy meal, hygiene supplies, access a computer for educational and employment searches, and use the laundry or shower. This exact service will continue in 2013.
We are so excited to grow on this strong foundation and announce that on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we will now offer a Drop-In at The Ark Shelter itself (990 West Kilgore) from 5 PM to 9 PM! Youth will be able to stop by the shelter and have immediate access to caring and quality staff. These staff will be able to provide access to referrals and information, address immediate life crises, screen the youth for intensive services, provide the youth with food and hygiene items, and meet unique needs. In early 2013 we will be reconfiguring parts of the shelter to accommodate this new service, but our doors are now open and staff are ready to meet youth at their point of need.
The Ark has a proud history of evolving to meet changing community — and youth — needs and this latest evolution leaves us in a strong position to serve the growing number of youth who are seeking our services. If you would be interested in volunteering at the shelter or otherwise assisting us in this important mission, we would love to have you! Please keep your eyes and ears open for new stories about The Ark and how we are reaching out to serve all youth in need. This is a great honor and a challenging task. It is also our mission and our passion and we thank you for your support and interest!