By John Warren
Phoenix AZ (January 15, 2016) The street outreach team was once again looking for homeless youth Friday to tell them about Tumbleweed Youth Development Center and the possibility to move from a life of homelessness and hopelessness to an opportunity where they could thrive and grow.
The street team made a foray into the dry Salt River below the Tempe lake dam. Earlier this week the team noticed camp fires among the trees of the river bottom and thought there could be some youth living and surviving there.
We found several homeless people living in the river and talked to them about others who might frequent the area. They confirmed that a number of youth do camp here from time to time but right now they were probably in downtown Tempe. We arrived in downtown and once again a significant number of homeless people had taken up residence on the sidewalks. The street team of Rochelle and Stephanie talked to a couple of youth who had not heard of Tumbleweed and told them about the Tempe Youth Resource Center on University and 5th avenue just west of downtown.
We told them it is a place where they could get food and a shower. They also told them that we have counselors at the resource center that could provide the young homeless survivor options for housing. The Emergency Housing program provides a safe overnight alternative for youth with nowhere to sleep. The Renovated hotel has 33 beds with full shower and bathroom facilities as well as food and access to case management. The goal is to stabilize youth and identify reliable housing within 90 days
The Emergency Housing Program is just the first step of transitioning the homeless youth from a life on the street to a place they can call home. Tumbleweed has an Independent Living program with two facilities where the young adults can live while they find a job and take advantage of continuing education and life skills programs offered at Tumbleweed.
The street team encountered another large group of youth near Tempe City hall near the Church with the Red door. Many of the youth there
had heard of Tumbleweed and had taken advantage of some of the services. Some were already working with counselors but they had not made the decision to leave the freedom of life on the streets to a life with rules and expectations.
Giving up the freedom of living with their street family takes time some tell me.
In time with constant contact from the Tumbleweed street team some will choose the promise of a future where they can grow and thrive.
Others won’t, but regardless the Street Outreach team will continue to deliver the message and offer help to those who need it and want it.