Staff and volunteers of a Seattle center for homeless youth are holding an emergency fundraiser tonight from 5-9 p.m. at the center to avoid its permanent closure next week.
The Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets center is located at 1814 Summit Ave. in Capitol Hill.
After 18 years of hustling up enough grant money and donations to keep its doors open, the center found out this week it will need thousands of dollars in donations by Wednesday just to stay open through the end of the month, said Bryan Baker, the center’s development director. If it can make it through the end of the month, he says that will provide the shelter enough breathing room to find grant sources that will keep it afloat.
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“We always had angels, grants and money,” said Elaine Simons, the center’s executive director. “But the economy is not getting better, it’s getting worse. We’ve got more demand and less supply.”
The center takes in hundreds of homeless youth up to age 26 every year, Simons said. She started the center 18 years ago with about 15 students she taught summer classes to at the James W. Ray Orion Center, which also helps homeless and at-risk youth.
“One of those students came through my door last night, and I just started crying,” Simons said.
Since the center’s inception, Simons said, she’s kept it alive through a mix of revenue streams that fluctuate throughout the year but its budget was never so low that the center had to pay rent late.
The center costs about $18,000 minimum per month to run, so Baker said a substantial chunk of cash is still needed before the center’s board meets for a fourth consecutive emergency meeting on Thursday. Baker said center staff is already trying to plan for where else youth can find services in case the donation drive is unsuccessful.
Tonight’s fundraiser is being run by the center’s youth and will feature music, poetry reading, a bake sale, and a silent art auction.
Donations to the center can be made through its page on The Seattle Foundation website.