Homelessness and abusive families are major problems in Santa Fe, and although many shelters strive to help those in need, few focus on the specific demographic of youths. ---
Youth Shelters is the largest support system in northern New Mexico for youths who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless after running away from abusive families. The organization has provided help to Santa Fe’s children since 1980, when a group of concerned citizens opened the Santa Fe Shelter Care, housed in a building adjacent to the Santa Fe Juvenile Detention Facility.
Karen Rowell, YS’ Executive Director, told SFR that, last year, 1,020 youths and their families benefited from the programs offered by Youth Shelters. Programs include emergency shelters, street outreach and counseling services. But the costs to operate these services, though incomparable to the cost of letting children remain at risk, quickly drains the limited federal and state funding allocated to this organization. A day of shelter costs as much as $150, and assisting youths on the street can be $50 per child per day.
To raise money to continue assisting troubled youths, Youth Shelters hosts a fundraiser with special guest Jimmy Santiago Baca.
Baca is a New Mexico native whose life story is a mixture of hope and desperation. Raised by his grandmother until entering an orphanage,
he ran away at 13 years old and soon found himself facing five years in an Arizona state prison on drug charges
While in prison, Baca discovered poetry and subsequently dedicated his life to reading and writing instead of violence and drugs. Three poems written during his incarceration were published the year of his release. Baca has since written three novels, been awarded several awards and honors, and received an honorary Ph.D in Literature from the University of New Mexico. He now spends his time writing and teaching others to overcome hardships.
The center has allowed the use of its auditorium and ballrooms, and will accommodate tours of the building for any interested parties.
Given the ongoing problems associated with vagrancy in Santa Fe, the programs offered by Youth Shelters provide a solution to stop the issues from continuing from one generation to the next.