Home starter kit trunks part of spreading message of runaway, homeless youth program in Craig
Sitting in the south window of the Community Budget Center in downtown Craig is an open trunk containing various home items.
A sign hangs near the trunk reading “basic survival gear.”
Although the scattered items may be seemingly ordinary to onlookers, Paula Reed, coordinator for the Moffat County Rural Collaborative for Runaway and Homeless Youth, said the trunk has the potential to raise community awareness about her program’s mission.
“A lot of these kids have come from homeless families or they are chronically homeless where they don’t know how to survive,” she said. “But, there is a difference between surviving and thriving.
“We want to start them at surviving … and then moving them to thriving, where hopefully we can end the issue of homelessness in their life and the next generation.”
That mission starts with the trunk, Reed said.
The trunk is a home starter kit, of sorts, free to homeless or runaway youths ages 16 to 21 who qualify for Reed’s program.
“It’s everything that a youth 18 years old, on their own, couldn’t afford to get on their own,” she said.
The trunk project, which started in October, is just a part of the services provided by the program, however.
“The idea is to prevent homelessness,” Reed said. “If a youth is homeless, then we assist them with whatever we can to get them … to somewhere where they are stable and get them to where they are self sufficient.”
Since October, Reed’s program has been able to provide one local resident with a home starter kit trunk.
But, Reed is hoping the time of year will help boost the community’s awareness of their availability.
Both Moffat County and Craig have declared November as runaway and homeless youth awareness month. The runaway and homeless youth month is part of a national campaign to bring awareness to the problem, Reed said.
Part of the awareness campaign is encouraging area residents to install a green light bulb in their porch light fixtures.
“So, say you have a green light up and your neighbors ask you what that is about, you can tell them about the issues that homeless youth face,” she said.
Both the green light bulb project and the declarations of runaway and homeless youth month are things Reed hopes will spread the message about the trunks and the program’s services.
“It’s the whole picture,” she said. “It is not just getting them into a house with a trunk and letting them go. That’s not going to solve their issue.”
Reed said the program seeks to teach homeless and runaway youth basic life skills and, in some cases, to get them back into school.
“What we do is fill in the gaps that the community doesn’t have resources for,” she said. “We don’t fill in all the gaps, but we fill in what we can.”
Youth interested in applying for the program or in need of a trunk should start by visiting the Community Budget Center, 555 Yampa Ave.; Love in the Name of Christ of the Yampa Valley, 656 School St.; or by contacting a school counselor, Reed said.
“Love, INC and the Budget Center know exactly what to do,” she said. “The counselors at the high school know what to do, they all know how to get a hold of us.”
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