My name is Nick Tscheekar, Initiatives Director at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada and an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America). The AmeriCorps program is essentially the domestic Peace Corps in which its members work at different nonprofit organizations across the country, serving populations in poverty. As Initiatives Director, my work is focused on the Youth Network Initiative (You’N-I).
Since the launch of You’N-I in 2013, the Foundation has worked with our community to build awareness about the situation of our youth who are homeless, runaways, or aging out of the foster care system. When I first started at the Foundation, I had some knowledge of youth homelessness in Washoe County, but I did not realize the extent of the issue.
During my first week, I discovered youth who are homeless are often referred to as an “invisible population” as they avoid being seen and are rarely on any legislative agenda. It was difficult to understand our struggling youth’s situation, but then I discovered the film The Homestretch, which sheds light onto a world that is often hidden. The film closely follows the lives of three youth who are homeless in Chicago, chronicling their struggle to make it on their own. While The Homestretch is filmed in another city, youth in our community face the same issues daily.
Following the viewing of the film, the Eddy House will announce the establishment of the YOUth Resource Center, set to open this spring. The center will be an invaluable resource for our vulnerable youth where they can be directed to professional service providers and have access to shelter, food, clothing, mentorship, and education. Additionally, the facility will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Audience members at the event will have the opportunity to sign up to become mentors or volunteers at the YOUth Resource Center.
If you would like to learn more about the issues surrounding youth homelessness and how you can help, I invite you to come to our free screening of The Homestretch on Tuesday, January 16, at the Joe Crowley Student Union Theater at UNR. Free parking will be available in front of the Student Union; doors open at 6 p.m. Register for this event at http://conta.cc/1BEaLsL.
I hope to see you there.
Nick Tscheekar, Initiatives Director