The Community Foundation added the words “and leadership” to our mission statement in 2012 and opened an avenue for collaboration and progress.
Board member Butch Anderson’s proposal for the Community Foundation to help homeless youth as our first community initiative was chosen from a pool of 23 initiative suggestions about a year later.
Today’s homeless and struggling youth in Reno have new community resources resulting from the work begun at that time. The most impactful resource is the impressive Eddy House 24-hour Center that brings unprecedented services and support to youth living with homelessness. We are incredibly proud of their work and have been unrelenting enthusiastic supporters. I am grateful that the Eddy House website acknowledges the role that the Community Foundation Youth Network Initiative (YOU’N-I) played in their history. https://eddyhouse.org/about/history/
The Youth Network Initiative generated monetary support for the Eddy House from generous fundholders at the Community Foundation. Since the launch of the Initiative in 2013, grants totaling more than $250,000 from Community Foundation fundholders, plus several grants from the Community Foundation’s Partnership Grant Fund (now called the Community Fund) have been directed to the Eddy House.
The Youth Network Initiative (You’N-I)
As described on its webpage, dozens of volunteers, including homeless youth, worked together to drive the Initiative. The Steering Committee led at that time by Lyndsey Crossley and me, met at the Gold ‘n Silver Inn. Committee members worked during a shared meal and youth members were provided a stipend and bus passes. The Steering Committee organized our first convening, held at the Boys & Girls Club. More than 50 youth attended, along with more than 100 social service professionals, community leaders, and funders. During the convening, youth said that a drop-in center was desperately needed. More meetings and another convening followed, then on April 22, 2014, Lynette Eddy of the Eddy House spoke to the youth on the Steering Committee about the drop-in center she was working to make a reality. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
Prior to this time, Lynette Eddy had operated a residential home for 6 boys, funded by the Z-Pie restaurant in the West Street Market which offered job training to the boys. Lynette’s plan was to close both of those enterprises and to open a downtown center serving youth ages 12-24, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 7-days a week. Services would be all-inclusive, with the center located within walking distance to the downtown bus station and include mailboxes and storage lockers. The envisioned Eddy House would not be a living facility. Youth needing housing would be referred to Children’s Cabinet for their transitional living options. We cheered in November 2014 when the Eddy House Youth Resource Center was opened!
The first years for the Eddy House were incredibly difficult as they worked without government funding. I applaud them for their persistence and triumph. The new Eddy House 24 Hour Center has come to fruition because of their successful work and determination, matched by the community’s generous giving, collaboration, and volunteering.
The Youth Network Initiative continued to grow and developed an on-line resource guide, designed and tested by youth. RenoYouthNework.com is used by social service workers, teachers, community members, and of course youth. The Community Foundation has tracked the visitor metrics since inception, reporting this information and keeping the resource contact information up to date.
Village on Sage Street
Housing was identified as perhaps vulnerable youth’s most acute need in 2014 though it was also considered the most difficult need to meet. The development of the Village on Sage Street marked the first viable opportunity for the Community Foundation to increase affordable housing that provides an independent living experience for struggling youth, and adults with limited income. After the Village on Sage Street had begun construction, Eddy House announced plans for the overnight shelter with wrap-around services.
From the start of our efforts to help youth struggling with homelessness to the opening of the Eddy House 24 Hour Center, the Youth Network Initiative’s mission to help homeless youth has struck a chord with the Community Foundation Board, Fundholders and Staff. It was our first foray into community-wide work and through it, we have incorporated community leadership and collaboration into the fabric of what we do.
If you’d like to learn how to make a measurable improvement in community needs that matter to you, please give the Community Foundation a call. We are experts at philanthropic advising, at integrating charitable giving with financial and estate planning, and in measuring impact. We can connect you and community organizations to combine resources in powerful ways.
Chris Askin, President, and CEO