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Youth Assistance Coalition

  • Highlighted Program: Volunteer Outreach to Youth
  • Looking for volunteers & select board members
  • giv4 Category: Intervention
  • Contact for more information:

    Heather Lezon
    Executive Director
    heather@yacsd.org

What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?

We are volunteer-based organization focusing on youth homelessness outreach.

 

We have over 40 volunteers who take a community approach to connecting youth to resources provided by our many partners. We conduct outreach four nights a week to find and establish relationships with youth on the streets. We encourage youth to visit our drop-in center where we provide social support, connections to resources, tutoring, and mentoring.

 

Many of our young people have experienced trauma living on the street and are reluctant to engage or trust adults. It is a testament to the consistency, caring, sensitivity, and training of our volunteers, that YAC has successfully forged relationships with so many young people experiencing homelessness. We in essence become their “family” which sets the foundation for future success.

 


What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?

Some of the more common themes we hear are that our youth are homeless by “choice,” are “drug addicts,” or “lazy.” We believe these to be common misconceptions as our youth are bright and unique individuals who need consistent social support and understanding to thrive and achieve their goals.

 


When was the organization founded?

Youth Assistance Coalition was founded in 2017 by a group of motivated volunteers who saw the pattern of youth homelessness in San Diego and wanted to break it. From the beginning, YAC has focused on a community approach to breaking this pattern. Our mission is to positively impact the lives of youth experiencing homelessness through empowerment, mentorship, and community collaboration in order to provide transformative opportunities.

 

We are a volunteer-run organization, and we rely on the support and kindness of our community to be able to provide much-needed services to San Diego’s homeless youth population.

 


You are part of the "intervention" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?

YAC has two programs that provide intervention services to alleviate homelessness in transitional age youth.

 

YAC's Outreach Program was designed to initiate contact and build relationships with youth experiencing homelessness to provide them mentorship and help accessing services. To achieve this, volunteers enter the community 4 times per week and distribute water as well as bags filled with non-perishable food and hygiene items. The outreach bags spark conversation, helping volunteers make positive connections and build rapport with youth experiencing homelessness. Participating in regular outreach efforts allows YAC to engage individuals and build trust.

 

YAC's Drop-in Center functions as a safe space for transitional-age youth to receive supportive services. The goal of the drop-in center is to provide resources based on identified needs, complete referrals to collaborative partners, and build permanent connections between youth and volunteers.

 


Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?

Yes! As a volunteer-based organization, we are supported by compassionate volunteers, board members, and donors.  We have many volunteer needs. We are seeking board members with fundraising and marketing skills (they should reach out to Heather Lezon, Executive Director, at heather@yacsd.org).

 

We are always in need of hygiene, snack bags, young adult men’s clothing, and undergarments. Donors can go to our website to donate or visit our Amazon and Walmart lists.

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