Montgomery County nonprofit Yes to Youth reaches $4M fundraising milestone, adjusts services amid pandemic

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Monetary donations as well as meals and cleaning supplies are requested. (Courtesy Yes to Youth)
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The shelter offers a safe home for youth. (Courtesy Yes to Youth)
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Monetary donations as well as meals and cleaning supplies are requested. (Courtesy Yes to Youth)
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The shelter is expanding to two new facilities. (Courtesy Yes to Youth)
A Conroe-based 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 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 also has offices in The Woodlands.

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 kids 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.

Changing roles

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

“Our staff support is more in line with connecting them to medical appointments, making sure they’re getting healthy food every day they have the clothes they need that the supplies they need,” Wilson said.

The shelter has contacts with local school districts to determine what the best option for its youth will be in the fall. Wilson said the staff would like the children to return to campuses in the fall but will make that decision as more information comes out.

“So it’s just one of those things that we just have to weigh all the pros and cons and do our own kind of internal risk analysis of what’s going to be the safest option, but also we want to make sure our kids get quality education,” Wilson said.

For community members who want to support the shelter during the quarantine, Wilson said they can donate meals and cleaning supplies.

Wilson said people are also encouraged to support the shelter financially, which gives the nonprofit more flexibility in how the funds are used. She 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 and neglect reports have gone down—not because these acts have stopped, but because they are now harder to see and report.

“If you see something that doesn’t look right ... make a call to look into it. And also, if people are ... struggling with just kind of ongoing anxiety [and] uncertainty that this time is causing for us all, tell them about our services we have for counseling; we have a crisis line,” Wilson said. “So we’re here to help. We’re here to listen and help people process.”

YES TO YOUTH

The Woodlands office:

8701 New Trails Drive, •Ste. 118, The Woodlands

281-292-6471

www.sayyestoyouth.org
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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