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City of Redmond grants Landing money for five more beds each night through March
Now through the end of March, Friends of Youth (FOY) will be able to accommodate five extra guests at its overnight emergency shelter in Redmond, the Landing, thanks to a grant from the City of Redmond.
FOY President and CEO Terry Pottmeyer said the money the organization received from the city allows them to increase the number of beds from 15 to 20 during the four winter months — December through March. The Landing’s physical space will stay the same, but FOY has added five bed mats for guests to use. Landing staff made room for the five additional mats by rearranging furniture in an area otherwise used for meals, watching TV and other non-sleeping activities.
Pottmeyer said the grant money will go toward operational and staffing costs as there is an additional staff member working the overnight shift at the Landing, which is located at 16225 NE 87th St., Suite A-1 at the Together Center in downtown Redmond.
Tolani Ogunyoku, program coordinator for the Landing, said having one person on staff with 20 guests is not safe, which is why they bring in a second individual. For example, he said, if there is an emergency in the middle of the night, it can be difficult for one person to manage in addition to watching over 20 guests. Whereas, two staff members on duty are able to support each other in such a situation.
KEEPING MORE PEOPLE WARM AND SAFE
During the colder months, Pottmeyer said the five extra beds each night make a significant difference at the shelter.
“Since moving to 20 beds, we haven’t had to turn anyone away,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to not have to turn young people away during the winter months.”
Ogunyoku agreed. He said when they can only accommodate 15 guests, they hold a random lotto drawing to see who will be able to spend the night at the Landing, which serves young people ages 18-24. Landing staff will coordinate with other shelters such as Sophia’s Way, currently in Woodinville, and Congregations for the Homeless in Bellevue, and drive the remaining young adults to these locations. Even this impacts the Landing, Ogunyoku said, as it takes one staff member away from the shelter.
In addition to providing a place for more youth to spend the night, Ogunyoku said having the extra beds available has eased the tension and created a calmer environment. He said for their guests, not knowing whether they will be able to stay for the night creates stress. Having to turn away people for the night can be stressful for staff, as well, Ogunyoku said. Not having to deal with this stress, he said, puts everyone in a better mood.
“It means the world for us not having to turn people away,” Ogunyoku said.
He added that during the colder nights in early December, all 20 bed mats were used but now it’s usually 18 or 19.
City of Redmond staff was prompted to provide extra funds to FOY by an uptick in the number of individuals sleeping outside the Redmond Library. This created “concerns related to public health and safety,” according to the memo, and was “in part due to the number of youth turned away from (the Landing) because of limited capacity.”
HELP FROM THE COMMUNITY
This is the second year in a row FOY has received money to increase capacity at the Landing during the winter months. Last year, the organization received funding from King County Council. Pottmeyer added that based on their experience last year, by the time they get to April with the weather warming up, the need for extra beds begins to drop. Fifteen beds is the right capacity for them during the remaining eight months of the year, she said.
Although the Landing is located in Redmond, Pottmeyer said they serve young people throughout the Eastside. The City of Redmond just happened to step up to help this year and she hopes other Eastside cities can do the same in the future.
In addition to receiving funds to add five beds each night, Pottmeyer said their dinner donors, who provide a hot meal for Landing guests each night, have also been great and not complained about having to increase how much food they need to prepare.
For more information on how to become a dinner donor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ogunyoku said the community support they have received since he started with FOY in March has been heartwarming. He said the number of volunteers at the Landing and their full-service drop-in center — which is what the emergency shelter turns into during the day — has tripled and they regularly get people contacting them, looking for ways to help. Meeting people who take a genuine interest in them, Ogunyoku said, is good for their guests and it helps to raise their morale.
“That has been absolutely amazing,” he said about the community’s involvement.