Bloom House Youth Services Celebrates New Year, Grand Opening | To free
Bloom House Youth Services is poised to be the perfect place to land for young people in need.
The shelter, located at 301 W. 11th Ave., welcomed the community to help celebrate with a New Years Eve grand opening Friday night and officially opened on Saturday after nearly three years of planning.
Executive Director Clara Corn said that the 501 (c) (3) organization formed in 2019, aiming to tackle youth homelessness in an inclusive space while providing support through access to the management of cases, mental health care and life skills education.
“I keep pinching myself that we’re finally here,” Corn said on Friday.
She said a lot of people don’t realize it, but Bloom House will fill a big need. According to the Kansas Department of Education, 69 homeless students were enrolled in Emporia during the 2019-20 school year.
Corn said young people who identify as LGBTQ + make up up to 40% of the total homeless youth population and trans youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness. Kansas is ranked # 29 out of 50 states and # 47 out of 100 for access to LGBTQ + inclusive resources. In addition, many homeless youth are pregnant or are already parents.
“Homelessness has dangerous consequences for young people,” says the Bloom House Youth Services website. “According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 3 teens on the streets will be pressured to exchange sex for purported safety within 48 hours of leaving home; the American Association of Pediatrics concludes that suicide is the leading cause of death among unaccompanied homeless youth.
A staggering 90% of youth who access juvenile shelters under the federally funded Basic Center program – of which Bloom House is a part – “report having experienced difficulties at home, such as fights or screaming. , physical and psychological violence and problems related to the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people.
“Homeless youth are hard to follow; they go through the cracks for a variety of reasons, ”Corn told The Gazette last year. “Sometimes they can be afraid to come forward and find a place. Some of them may feel like they haven’t been accommodated in other shelters or they have been in some that are more exclusive and have a more specific list of those they serve.
As of Saturday, Bloom House has four beds ready to go to get started. Five more beds were waiting on mattresses to arrive. Corn said household items and furniture donations are always needed and greatly appreciated. Besides seven bedrooms that can accommodate up to 12 needy teens at a time, there are two living areas and the three kitchens. Donations of hygiene products and food are also welcome.
Corn expects the shelter to be used soon after opening its doors.
The program manager, Emily Yell, who lives on site, is ready to welcome the first person through her doors.
“I’m just going to love this first one,” she said.
“Like you’re not going to love every single person that comes here,” Corn added with a laugh. “Emily is one of the ‘aunties’ and she is so patient and easy to talk to.
Other staff members include art therapist Carolee Conway and Rosalie Regine joins the staff as a case manager.
“They all have experience working with teenagers,” Corn said. “I have a fabulous team here.”
The reception center will be open to all young people in need, even if they are not homeless. Computer access, laundry, on-site counselors and more will be available.
Aside from the glowing blue neon sign on the outside of the shelter, there are two other neon signs inside marking a few important spaces.
“Ace’s Place” overlooks the living room, where a photograph of Ace Garate is on display. Garate died in a car crash in 2019 and his parents, Carlos and Amy Garate, purchased the shelter building for Bloom House Youth Services to use.
“Gramma Shari’s,” named after Yell’s mother, overlooks the kitchen. Yell said her mother passed away several years ago and her loving language made for a great meal for everyone.
Corn said volunteers and interns are always needed. Individuals and groups can also register to ‘adopt’ a room. Those interested in these opportunities can email [email protected] to find out more.
For more information on Bloom House Youth Services, visit www.bloomhouseks.org. You can also follow the shelter on all social media using @BloomHouseKS.