10/26/2014

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Our only local kids and teens shelter at risk of closing

Our only local kids and teens shelter at risk of closing
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Tri-Cities' only shelter for kids and teens is in danger of closing its doors for good.

My Friends Place runs off very little grant money and relies on donations. And the demand has outweighed the support.

KEPR learned what's been shut down and what's changed.

They might not be on your radar, but the truth is out they are out there. Homeless kids of all ages living around the Tri-Cities. The most recent figures say we have about 800 kids who don't have a home. Staying with friends, and sleeping in parks.

"You wouldn't want to be sleeping in the park here in the middle of the winter," said the Board Chair of Safe Harbor, Mark Lee.

It was one of the reasons My Friends Place filled a huge need. It's the only local kids and teens shelter. And now a money shortage has led the shelter to cut back summer hours, to save cash for the harsher winter times. The shelter has been open less than three years.

"The great thing is that more youth are coming but the sad part is our funding hasn't increased, so our cost increases. But that only makes us more underwater in terms of being able to keep us open," said Lee.

Safe Harbor runs My Friends Place as well as a family center that offers educational and trauma classes. The family center is now closed for the summer. The teen shelter will open four hours later than normal.

The executive director at Safe Harbor says all of this is just temporary. There's no guarantee that if they don't get money quick enough - the worst case scenario could happen - closing their doors for good.

"We are just critically low in funds and we are doing our best to remain open for both facilities to survive," said Executive Director of Safe Harbor, Karen Kirk-Brockman.

It costs $50,000 to operate the two facilities each month. They receive only ten thousand from a grant and outside source. That $40,000 shortfall caused the sudden cutbacks while the charity hopes to reopen at full steam in the fall.

So how can you help? The organization is always looking for donations of all kinds -- clothes, food, and money.

Here's a link to help: http://www.gofundme.com/azmarc
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