(Victor Valley)– – After two years of hard work and planning, and another year of securing funding and a location, it was time for the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Family Assistance Program’s “Our House”, a shelter for runaway and homeless teens, the first of its kind in San Bernardino County.
Our House is new facility designed to provide a safe shelter for youth. Family Assistance Program Board Member Delci Felix explained, “It is shelter for kids, age 11-17, that are having problems at home, are runaways, have nowhere to go, or are just homeless. We will provide counseling and education for them while we help them find a long term solution to their family problems.”
Darryl Evey, executive director of Family Assistance Program, formerly known as the High Desert Domestic Violence Program in Victorville, has spearheaded this project from the beginning, including securing funding to open the facility. “We were awarded a grant of $200,000 a year for three years from the federal government to run this shelter.”
“The purpose of the shelter is family reunification,” explained Evey. “The goal is to take a runaway, find out what’s going on in their life that caused them to run away from home, find out what’s going on with the family and what can we do to address the problem so that this child doesn’t feel that they need to runaway anymore.”
Felix described the location and all that is has to offer its new residents. “There is a nice living room, 5 double bedrooms, beautiful kitchen with a big dining area, and a computer room. It also has a big rec room and we’re going to put in some ping pong tables, a pool table and some other stuff for the kids to do so they have a place to hang out. It has a nice big yard and we’re going to put in landscaping, an eating area outside, and a basketball court. It’s just a great place.”
The facility also has conference rooms for counseling sessions, and staff offices.
“We’re going to help these kids to get back in school, and help them get going in the right direction,” Felix said. “A lot of these kids don’t have hope, they have problems at home, they get thrown out, they have nowhere to go, and they have no direction, so hopefully… this is going to give them hope.”
There are so many volunteers and companies that donated time, money, equipment, furniture and so much more to make this all possible, Felix said. “They all helped out because there is a need, because we have kids in the street. The homeless shelters can’t take them because they are underage. So they have nowhere to go.”
There were about 200 people that came out for the ribbon cutting ceremony. There were brief presentations from Supervisor Josie Gonzales, chairperson of the board of supervisors, Judge Marsha Slough, a strong children’s advocate, and Assemblyman Mike Morrell. Attendees were given tours of the facility by volunteers and staff.
There are just a few minor things to be completed before the city signs off and Our House can open to accept teen residents, according to Felix. They already have at least one child ready to move in.
“It was so nice at the grand opening to say ‘Yes! We are two weeks away from opening!’ Because we have all put in so much work. We have green lights, we have money, and we have kids waiting. It’s just awesome!” Felix said.
For more information on Our House of the Family Assistance Program, visit their website: http://www.hddvp.org/