Two of our vital programs at DreamTree Project are funded by RHYA. The first being our Emergency Youth Shelter for youth aged 12-17. Our shelter has an 8 bed capacity and aids youth from all over the large area of rural New Mexico and beyond. Youth can arrive at any time of the day or night in need of a place to stay, and can live at DreamTree for up to 90 days. The shelter offers a safe and structured environment, nutritious meals, and a full schedule of daily activities. Youth in the shelter are also able to acquire and maintain employment while staying at DreamTree.
Secondly, our Street Outreach Program is funded by RYHA. This is a mobile outreach program that allows us to go into the streets and dirt roads of Northern New Mexico, where we can connect with runaway and homeless youth. Our main goal is to inform youth about their options for housing, and in addition we provide backpacks full of survival gear and mobile case management while they decide on next steps. In addition to connecting with youth, this program allows for us to build relationships with adults on the streets, giving out aid in the form of food packs and water.
DreamTree Project’s Walk A Mile event
Receiving RYHA funding allows us to keep our doors open, and for youth to have a warm, safe place to stay when they might otherwise be on the harsh streets of Northern New Mexico. It also enables us to reach out to youth on the streets, to give them support, and to inform them of the help available in order to help them move from homeless to housed.
Both our Emergency Youth Shelter and Street Outreach Program have impacted lives with successful outcomes. Last year, over 72% of youth in the Emergency Youth Shelter exited to safe and stable housing. In the Street Outreach Program, our outreach team distributes an average of 25 food packs from Santa Fe Food Depot to homeless individuals on a monthly basis. In addition, they have handed out full backpacks stocked with survival gear and basic necessities to 12 homeless youth on the streets since March 2017.
The Emergency Youth Shelter is a temporary housing situation that many youth exit from in order to move into long term, stable housing. One example is a recent resident, George. George lived in the DreamTree Project shelter for almost 60 days. He had a common history; since his separation from his family, he had moved from shelter to shelter throughout New Mexico, from Albuquerque to Roswell to Santa Fe and back again. Sometimes George would ‘time out’ of a particular shelter, other times he would be discharged for behavior conflicts with other youth. At DreamTree, George found great success. You could often find George burning energy at the punching bag, or building extensive playlists of his favorite music on the shelter computer. Here he was able to maintain good behavior, develop strong friendships with the other residents, and develop skills to manage his anger and excess energy issues. After 60 days, the case manager and his social worker were able to work together to find him a placement in a foster home. The morning George left the shelter, he dressed up in his favorite suit jacket and had a contagious smile on his face as he looked forward to the next stage of his life outside of the shelter system. As difficult as it can be to say goodbye, we are always thrilled to see our residents move on from our shelter with a bounce in their step.