"Rural homelessness for youth is almost invisible, even to folks living in these communities," explains Looking Glass Rural Program Supervisor Amanda Hampton. "Youth are rarely out on the streets in a visible way, which means it requires targeted, intentional and collaborative effort to be able to reach the folks who are in need of our services."
The Rural Program, which focuses on South Lane County, has a small but dedicated staff working out of their Cottage Grove office to provide services for 11 to 21-year-olds with access to food, clothing, basic need items, employment and education support, mental health referrals and emergency shelter transportation.
Among other strategies, the Looking Glass outreach team walks around Cottage Grove and offers basic need items and snacks to at-risk youth with attempts to refer them back to the drop-in center. Most other community resources in Cottage Grove cater to families, elementary aged youth or adults 18 and older. The Looking Glass Rural Program is the only drop-in center in the South Lane County community whose primary focus is youth at risk for homelessness between the ages of 11 and 21.
"Youth homelessness is real and it exists in South Lane County," says street outreach worker Luca Long. "It takes a broad spectrum of effort from the community to be able to support youth who are at risk of homelessness."
Hampton and her staff are proud to be part of the solution and they are excited to be working closely with the school system and other local community partners to increase the visibility of resources available to this population.
Amanda can be contacted via email here: firstname.lastname@example.org.