Yes to Youth: Conroe nonprofit reaches fundraising milestone, adjusts services amid pandemic

Yes to Youth volunteers sort donations and cleaning supplies for its shelter to help homeless youth. (Photos courtesy Yes to Youth)
Yes to Youth volunteers sort donations and cleaning supplies for its shelter to help homeless youth. (Photos courtesy Yes to Youth)

Yes to Youth volunteers sort donations and cleaning supplies for its shelter to help homeless youth. (Photos courtesy Yes to Youth)

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A Conroe nonprofit has hit a fundraising milestone to continue serving homeless youth in Montgomery County.

Yes to Youth, formerly named Montgomery County Youth Services, has raised $4 million of its $4.2 million fundraising goal to expand its Bridgeway campus on North Frazier Street in Conroe with two new facilities, according to Chief Operating Officer Penny Wilson. These facilities would add 15 beds to the shelter’s existing 15-bed capacity.

Yes to Youth expects to complete the building by January 2021.

Wilson said fundraising during the pandemic has been difficult—the nonprofit had to cancel its 20th annual Ladies Night Out in April—but the community has still shown up in the ways it can.

“We know things are tough in the community, but a lot of people are still supporting nonprofits, which is really awesome and encouraging,” Wilson said.

Yes to Youth offers support for families and youth in crisis, offering counseling and support services in addition to its 15-person emergency shelter for youth. During the quarantine, Wilson said the shelter housed about 10 children and adolescents. She said the shelter had to adapt to not only continue helping the young people it housed, but also to offer counseling services.

“The kids have somebody in person there every day to talk to and process what they’re going through,” Wilson said. “They already have a lot of inner trauma and things that they were already dealing with before COVID[-19]. And now they have stress and anxiety to deal [with].”

Wilson said the shelter was able to move its counseling services to telehealth and limited visitors and volunteers coming to the shelter.

As schools begin to release guidelines for instruction in the fall, Wilson said the staff will adapt its role from organizing a child’s schedule to being more of a tutor.

The shelter will determine the best option for its youth returning to school in the fall as more information comes out, she said.

Wilson said the most important thing the community can do is spread the word about the shelter and its services. With children out of school and families quarantining, Wilson said abuse reports have gone down because they are now harder to see and report.

“We’re here to listen and help people process,” Wilson said.
By Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now works as the reporter for the Conroe/Montgomery edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


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