Choosing targets

Action group states goal for homeless youth initiative

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The Homeless Youth Action Group has identified teaching teens self-sufficiency as its primary long-term goal.

The group met Wednesday morning for an update and discussion of where to go from here.

Beckey Grabowski and Delaine Voloshin of the School to Work Alliance Program reported many homeless happenings since the group's Jan. 31 meeting.

"Some pretty phenomenal things have happened," Grab-

owski said.

The women have identified more homeless youths, bringing the current total to 21, and found housing, jobs and prescription medicines for several of them.

Many businesses and agencies recently have donated food, clothing and toiletry items to the cause.

"We've done a lot, and it's through your support and your efforts ... that we've been able to do that," Grabowski said. "This community is coming together. This community does care about these kids."

Last month, El Pomar Youth in Community Service granted the group $3,000 for emergency needs, an act Grabowski said moved her because high school students understood the needs of their peers.

Next, the group is applying for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act grant from the Colorado Department of Education.

The proposal for the three-year renewable grant, which can reach as high as $40,000 per year, is due March 18.

Grabowski said the group is distributing community surveys to gather information on the number of homeless people in the area. The grant would be used for educational needs of the youths and possibly a case manager for the homeless youth population.

The organization also is seeking ideas for a new organization name and information from agencies that can provide services to homeless youth for a directory of services.

The largest task, however, seems to be looking beyond helping those who are homeless to getting them on their feet.

Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman said changing parents' perspective is the root of the homelessness problem.

"There is a mentality that they can do it on their own and off they go," Krogman said. "Why are parents putting their kids out the day they graduate? Why do we have that mentality that 18 is the magic number?"

Craig resident Mary Shearer agreed the group needs to look at long-term goals for dealing with the issue.

"I think there's a real thin line between enabling and empowering," Shearer said. "I think you need to separate these emotions and focus on what's best for the kids."

Grabowski said she has an independent living skills workbook that could be helpful to teach youths how to budget and plan ahead. Community parenting and budgeting classes are a step in the right direction, Grabowski said.

Shearer suggested training for those who welcome homeless youths into their homes, so practical life skills can be passed onto the teens.

The next Homeless Youth Action Group meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 28. The meeting place has not been determined.

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