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Friends of Youth's emergency shelter and drop-in center opens at Together Center
The new tenant is Redmond-based Friends of Youth's (FOY) full-service drop-in center and overnight emergency shelter, the Landing.
The 2,498-square-foot facility is a daytime drop-in center for homeless youth and young adults, and at night, it turns into a 15-bed overnight emergency shelter for homeless young adults ages 18-24. The Landing is fully staffed by trained professionals who work to help youth between the ages of 15 and 24 end their homelessness and move to safe and stable housing.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday to celebrate the Landing's opening, but the center has been up and running since Sept. 13.
NOT HOMELESS BY CHOICE
During Wednesday's ceremony, FOY President and CEO Terry Pottmeyer spoke briefly to stress the need of such a facility on the Eastside. She told the full-house crowd that most people she encounters believe their clients cross the bridge from Seattle in seek of services. However, Pottmeyer said the majority of their clients have Eastside zip codes and find themselves on the street as a result of aging out of the foster system, escaping a difficult home life, the down economy or other factors. With the down economy, Pottmeyer said the demographic the Landing serves also faces the worst job market in decades. Some of their clients — they have worked with 2,527 so far this year — also deal with mental illness.
"Not a single one of (our clients) is homeless by choice," Pottmeyer said.
Before the Landing opened in Redmond, the shelter had been housed at the Bellevue Family YMCA five nights a week for 10 years.
"'Thank you' is really inadequate," Pottmeyer said. "They have been patient hosts…We are so grateful to the Bellevue YMCA."
From 2011 to when the permanent Landing location at the Together Center opened, FOY also partnered with four Eastside churches — Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland, St. Peter's United Methodist Church in Bellevue, Redmond United Methodist Church and Mercer Island United Methodist Church — who each hosted the Landing in their buildings on Fridays and Saturdays for a few months.
A SENSE OF STABILITY
Redmond United Methodist Church hosted the shelter from March to June of this year and Reverend Cara Scriven said things went well for them. She said having the Landing in a permanent location will be good to give clients stability instead of them always wondering whether the shelter has moved locations. Scriven added that she hopes her congregation will continue helping the Landing when they can since it is located only a few blocks from their church.
While some people may have concerns about having a homeless shelter in the community, Scriven said it is important to not push people who need help away because we may have been where they are before or we may end up in a similar situation in the future.
"They're not different," Scriven said. "They're still part of our community."
City of Redmond Mayor John Marchione, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Congressman Dave Reichert — who represents the Eighth District, which includes parts of Redmond — each spoke during Wednesday's ceremony. Like Pottmeyer, each elected official stressed the importance of having facilities like the Landing on the Eastside.
Pam Mauk, executive director for the Together Center, said the board of directors for the human services campus were very enthusiastic about having the shelter onsite as the nature of their work puts them in direct with the people who would utilize the Landing.
"We're very in touch with the demand," she said. "We're just thrilled."
ONE MOMENT TO CHANGE A LIFE
Reichert said he is proud to see the Landing open, recalling his time working as a youth counselor 20 years ago at his church in Kent.
"The services were far, few," he said.
Reichert also shared his personal experiences with homelessness, telling the audience how he left home due to domestic violence and lived in his car. A neighbor let him do his laundry at their house so he could still go to school. The turning point that pushed Reichert to get his life back on track came from one of his teachers who took the time to help him.
He told FOY staff and other human services representatives in the room that they are in the same position as his former teacher and have the ability to make a difference.
"The people you touch…(that can be) a moment that can change their life," Reichert said.