November is National Runaway Prevention Month and California Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month, an annual awareness and prevention campaign for runaway and homeless youth issues. The YMCA of San Diego County has more than 48 years’ experience serving this population, and this year, we’re sharing a series of blog posts that explore the issue in depth. Read our first three posts here, here, and here.

November is coming to a close, but our commitment to runaway and homeless youth doesn’t end with it. Homelessness affects entire communities, not just the homeless individual, so a solution to the issue requires efforts and investments from the community-at-large.

We hope you’ve found our series on youth homelessness in San Diego enlightening and inspiring. If our work has piqued your interest, and you would like to be part of the solution to ending homelessness in our community, consider participating in the following ways:

Continue to educate yourself about youth homelessness: The YMCA exists to help youth develop into strong, healthy adults, and our housing and support programs bring that mission life for youth in crisis. In order to make a lasting impact on the youth we serve, we apply the latest social service research and best practices to our programs and use our expertise to educate others. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get the latest information about solving youth homelessness in San Diego.  

Share what you’ve learned with others: Share what you’ve learned about the homeless youth experience by educating members of your community, government representatives, or colleagues. Shining a light on the challenges these youth face can direct vital community resources to solutions and invest in the future of our most disconnected, vulnerable youth.

Volunteer: Each year we take part in the Point in Time Count, a federally mandated effort to count the number of unsheltered and sheltered persons experiencing homelessness on a single night. YMCA staff and community members gather before sunrise on the appointed day and collect data so our local policy makers and community members can determine the most-needed services to meet the challenges of San Diego’s homeless community. Click here to volunteer for next year’s event on January 25, 2019.

Invest in our future: The Youth & Family Services branch of the YMCA has nearly a dozen programs that help youth facing housing instability. Donations of all denominations are welcome to help youth stabilize their basic needs and support efforts to develop the skills that will lead to sustained independence. Select YMCA Youth & Family Services in section 1 at this donation page and become part of the solution today!

Ending youth homelessness is a key strategy in solving chronic adult homelessness, and an investment in targeted youth services will pay dividends when those youth realize their potential and grow into contributing members of our community.