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Media contact: Paul Neville, 541-743-7121

 

Ground Shaken, Not Stirred, For Youth House

Categories: Email Newsletter, Housing, Homeless Aid, Volunteers
Author:
Date: Wednesday, July 5 2017

guitarist with folks singing

Musician Rich Glauber inspires song in celebration of the Youth House as the construction phase begins. Photo by Chris Pietsch, The Register-Guard.

Check out the groundshaking for yourself! Here's coverage by...

...Videographer David Hazen

...NBC 16 KMTR

...KLCC's Rachael McDonald

...The Register-Guard's Alisha Roemeling and Chris Pietsch

Remodel will lead to housing, services for homeless high school girls

Less than a year after deciding to venture into creating a refuge that provides free housing and social services to homeless high school students, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County had an "ground-shaking" groundbreaking for its Youth House. The extravaganza took place at 3350 Willamette, formerly Cascade-Presbyterian Church property.

Eugene's own Music Man Rich Glauber struck the celebratory tone as speaker after speaker expressed amazement, gratitude, determination and hope for teens, some of whom will find their first steps up in life to be those of the Youth House.

“With the help of dedicated project partners and strong community support, we have been able to make a great deal of progress in a very short period of time,” said Terry McDonald, executive director of the Eugene-based nonprofit. “By the end of this year, we hope to open our doors to the first homeless girls who will receive the secure housing, social services and community support they need to stay in school and graduate.” McDonald acknowledged key project partners including Hosea Youth Services, which will operate the Youth House, the Eugene, Springfield and Bethel school districts, The 15th Night Coalition and  the Eugene-Springfield Home Consortium.

man speaking to crowd in big hall
Change is coming to 3350 Willamette, but the former sanctuary will remain a gathering place.

Last summer, McDonald was contacted by local neighborhood association leaders who wanted SVDP to acquire the former church to serve the community’s growing homeless population. Last December, SVDP purchased building with a $625,000 federal HOME grant awarded by the Eugene-Springfield Home Consortium. So far SVDP has raised more than 70 percent of the $1.85 million needed to complete the project. The nonprofit has received grants from the Oregon Community Fund (OCF), as well as the Collins, Chambers and Autzen foundations Earlier this year, local philanthropist and community activist Tom Bowerman announced a $50,000 challenge grant from the Barbara Bowerman Fund of the OCF, and the grant has since been fully matched by donors. Banner Bank has approved a construction loan for the project.

When completed, the Youth House will house 13 teen-age girls ages 16 to 18 rent free for up to two years with the requirement that they remain in school until graduation. A manager will live on-site, and the house will include a community space, kitchen, laundry, counseling office and computer lab. Each student-resident will be assigned a mentor, and a full-time caseworker will help youth connect to social services and work with students, mentors and school officials to create individualized life plans.

On any given night in the Eugene-Springfield area nearly 400 homeless high school students ages 16 to 18 struggle to find a place to sleep. “Many of them end up couch-surfing with acquaintances and some end up on the streets where they are vulnerable to violence, drugs and a thriving human-trafficking trade the along the I-5 corridor,” said Paul Neville, a lead SVDP administrator on the Youth House project.

The groundbreaking event included presentations by Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinus, Bethel School District Supt. Chris Parra, SVDP Board Chair Louise Westling, McDonald and others. The ceremony concluded with a “musical groundbreaking” by Rich Glauber.

     Donors can contribute on line through St. Vinnie’s secure website at www.svdp.us; mail checks designated “Youth House” to SVDP, 2890 Chad Drive, Eugene, OR 97408, or call Development Director Paula Berry at 541 743-7144.  To request a presentation about this project or for more information, call 541 743-7121 or email paul.neville@svdp.us

     (For more information, contact SVDP Public Relations Director Paul Neville at 458 210-8094.)