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Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
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Mason County Journal
June 5, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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June 5, 2014
 

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Former church rectory may be next teen drop-in hub By GORDON WEEKS gordon@masoncoun com The two-story brick building at 312 Third St. in downtown Shelton once housed clergy who sermonized at St. Edward Catholic Church. No one has lived there for five years; the dusty shelves are used for storage by the building's owner, Mason County. Several nonprofit groups that work with at-risk teens are looking at the va- cant structure and envisioning a drop- in center for youth. The advocates for homeless and at-risk teens are sharing their dream with Shelton and Mason County officials. The proposal comes from HOST (Housing Options for Students in Transition) and the Hope Project, un- der the auspices of St. David of Wales Episcopal Church in Shelton. The building is an ideal site for of- rices, classrooms, a kitchen and a place for youths to gather, says Miles Nowlin, who tracks and helps home- less students as the homeless liaison for Shelton School District. He hopes organizers can persuade thecounty to lease the building for $1 a year, and pay for all the utilities. Nowlin calls such an arrangement "a sweet deal" for the county. "They are supporting the prosperity of the county's young people, as well as making improvements to the building," he said. There's been a huge need for a teen gathering site since the armory build- ing closed, and a drop-in center in the former rectory building would create "a central hub," said Delphina Liles of HOST. "There's nowhere for students to go after school, or on weekends," she said. "This building has to fill a gap of a home the students dofft have," a com- munity space "where lyouth can do more than survive," Liles said. The building's downtown site is accessible by bus. Hope Garden and HOST are actively donating food to needy people as part of the Community Lifeline community meals program less than a block away at St. David, so resources such as the showers and the central kitchen can be shared, Nowlin said. The plans include a perennial, edi- ble garden and park on the west side of the building, which is now a gravel lot, in collaboration with Master Garden- ers and WSU Extension, Nowlin said. The Skookum Rotary Club is en- dorsing the plan, and the Shelton City Commission issued a letter of support for the proposed project, one of the rec- ommendations from its poverty task force. Nowlin said the challenges include finding or creating parking in the area. The furnace is out of date. Nowlin es- timates building renovations will cost between $25,000 and $35,000. The organizers are still trying to de- cide who will be the lead agency on the lease, Nowlin said. The possibilities in- clude HOST and Olympia-based Com- munity Youth Services, he said. Organizers are meeting with city of Shelton planners to talk about fire and building codes, and possible renova- tions. They are also looking into a re- quest by Mason County commission to estimate the cost of utilities. On a recent day, the building was toured by officials from the city of Shel- ton (Commissioner Mike Olsen), the county (Director of Public Health Vicki Kirkpatrick), Nowlin, Liles and Dan Ryder, a member of the HOST advisory board who works with homeless teens as an education advocate for ESD 113. Ryder said he wants "a safe, kind and welcoming environment for our youth, not just our advantaged youth, but our disadvantaged youth. We need a hub where young people can work on their future." Olsen said he agrees. "This fits in perfectly with (recom- mendations from) our poverty task force ... catch the youths before they're adults," he said. The Mason County-owned building at 312 Third St. has been vacant for five years, but several nonprofit groups that work with at- risk teens are looking at the former church rectory building and envisioning a drop-in center for youth. Journal photo by Gordon Weeks TEEN HOMELESSNESS Keylee Marineau, director of services for high-risk youth at the Community Youth closet at the drop-in site, people ages 12 to 24 can help themselves to shoes and Rosie's Place:'Wel About l O percent of teens who drop in from Meson County By GORDON WEEKS gordon@masoncounty.com At Rosie's Place in downtown Olympia, homeless people ages 12 to 24 can wash and dry their clothes, check their email and job prospects on computers, jam on guitars and keyboards in the music room, eat from a fully stocked kitchen, and grab free clothes and hygiene prod- ucts. At night, six mats are pulled out of a customized closet, and six youths spend the night, off the streets. Homeless teens in Mason County have no such drop-in site, but many of them are finding their way to the state's capital. The organization re- ports that 141 of 1,376 youths who checked in 2013 and so far this year are from Mason County. The center averages 35 to 40 youths per day. Most are "street de- pendent or homeless, with no easy access to services, who have needs that are not being met," said Key- lee Marineau, director of services for high-risk youth for Community Youth Services. "Our No. 1 job is to engage, meet them where they are," Marineau said. "They have no reason to trust adults." Rosie's Place was launched in 2005 on State Avenue. Four months ago, the drop-in center moved to the second floor of the Brighter Futures Youth Center, at the intersection of Pear Street and Legion Way. This year, Rosie's Place is operat- ing on a budget of $430,000, all from private donations and foundations, and the county, state and federal gov- ernment, Marineau said. That pur- chases and maintains many services, including the music room, library, computers, lockers, a fully stocked kitchen, crisis intervention, legal Homeless: 'There are not many wholesome places for I Three lived in mote is. And 234 were cons ered by the federal M homelessness as youths friends due to the loss ship and circumstances domestic violence, incarc drug or alcohol treatmer The youths not only h few places to gather in S The closest shopping bowling alley closed. Th teens younger than 18. ' gathering place for youth continued from page A- 1 [dered "doubled up," consid- :Kinney-Vento definition of who live with relatives or of housing, economic hard- Lhat include family turmoil, eration, hospitalization, and t. ve no permanent home, but helton. mall is in Olympia. The ,re's no overnight shelter for [he armory building, long a s, is closed, and is scheduled to reopen as Mason Transit Authority's Transit-Com- munity Center in January. 're don't have a real community center for teens, like a Boys & Girls Club and teen clubs," Massie said. "These are good places to connect with adults outside the school system ... There are not many wholesome places for teens to hang out and do things in the com- munity." The homeless youths ages 18 to 21 who use the Housing Options for Students in Transition (HOST) program -- which provides temporary housing, monthly stipends, case management and job shadow opportunities -- 'have been let down by every adult in their life," said Delphina Liles, the group's pro- gram coordinator. Such is the case with the three youths who shared their stories of being homeless in Shelton. Miles Nowlin, who supports the needs of homeless teens as the homeless liaison for the Shelton School Dis- trict, said the three share other traits: strength, "the oomph, the resiliency which comes naturally when you're thrown into extreme circumstances." BRENDEN Born in Missouri and raised in Minnesota, Pippins came to Shelton when he was 11. He arrived with his sister, two brothers and his mother to live with a man the mother met online. "He was an alcoholic, and there was always fight- ing," Pippins said. "He was abusive toward us. I don't think there was a day there wasn't a drunken fight." / I il ii iiilli iJIf I i!1 I II ! IIi IIlli!ill !t:i i1!