Street Outreach Program
The Street Outreach Program (SOP) provides homeless youth immediate access to services. The Street Outreach team, made up of staff and volunteers, traverses the tri-county area each week, distributing Gateway brochures and information packets, as well as blankets, clothing, food, hygiene products, etc. The Street Team also comes prepared to take homeless youth directly to the shelter if they do not have a place to stay that night.
The intent of SOP is to bring our services directly to youth in crisis, instead of waiting for them to come to us. This enables us to expand our services by going to the youth in their spaces. It allows us to overcome hurdles that may prevent a connection. The Street Team visits community centers, parks, schools, malls, and other places youth might gather. The Street Team usually hits the streets Monday through Friday from 4pm to 8pm and also can be found at community events (see the calendar below for upcoming events at which the Street Team will be present).
Project Safe Zone
Project Safe Zone Zone is another feature of the SOP. Businesses that choose to partner with Gateway can become ‘Safe Zones’ and will display the Safe Zone logo. Any place with a Safe Zone logo in the window is a safe place for youth to ask for help. These businesses will have Gateway promotional materials and a direct line to the Street Team in order to get help for any youth that requests it.
Youth homelessness is a community problem, and by including local businesses in our program, we are allowing the entire community to assist our efforts to end youth homelessness. If you are a local business owner interested in having your business become a Safe Zone, please contact our Street Outreach Coordinator, Sophia Estrada-Ferreira at email@example.com
How Can I Help?
Like many of Gateway’s programs, Street Outreach utilizes the skills and talents of volunteers and interns. Volunteers go onto the streets with the Street Team during the week, distributing Gateway promotional materials and other goods to youth in the area. Here is a list of Street Outreach volunteer activities:
- The team takes to the streets M-F, 4PM – 8PM. These may vary to permit the team to attend special events.
- Under the supervision of the SOP Manager, volunteers meet with youth in public to provide information, referrals, and services to runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. They make follow-up contact with these youth when possible.
- We build relationships with local community businesses who can help us identify geographic areas to reach out to these youth.
- We provide crisis intervention services to individuals, youth, and families when a youth accepts our services, or there is a critical need placing youth at risk for running away or becoming homeless. We work with emergency shelter staff for intake and assessment.
- The team distributes basic supplies, such as clothing, first aid, and hygiene products.
- We replenish basic supplies, contact sheets, business logs, brochures and pocket cards as needed.
- The team completes the SOP log on the computer after each shift. Contact sheets and business logs are turned in at end of each shift.
For those who may not be interested in going into the community as described above, but would still like to be part of the Street Outreach Program, here are some additional ways you can support Gateway Community Services:
- Research homeless issues with your friends and family to help others understand the problem as it relates to your community and the efforts of Gateway Community Services.
- Hold a non-perishable food drive in your neighborhood or community and/or collect clothing, hygiene supplies, blankets, first aid supplies, etc. to give to our youth on the street.
- Hold a benefit to raise money for runaway, homeless, and struggling youth.
- Notify us of a business that would like to donate or provide services to Gateway Community Services.
- Bring us your idea of a way to help.
- If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or intern for Street Outreach, please contact Street Outreach Coordinator Sophia Estrada-Ferreira at firstname.lastname@example.org