One Cold Night 2018: West County

One Cold Night 2018: West County

SAY’s annual fall fundraiser, One Cold Night, is a county wide movement of individuals, known as sleepers who accept the challenge to sleep outside for one night so that homeless and at-risk youth don’t have to. This event will take place on December 7th with Sleepers representing six key areas in Sonoma County and the unique struggles and challenges young people face there. Leading up to December 7th, we are highlighting each of the six sleeping sites for 2018: Santa Rosa, Petaluma, North County, West County, Sonoma Valley and Rohnert Park.

For our second week, we are heading to West County, home to at least 68 youth experiencing homelessness according to the 2018 Point-In-Time Homeless Census and Survey.

The needs of youth in West County

Youth experiencing homelessness in the West County and Russian River area are unique in their needs for safety net services providers like Social Advocates for Youth. High numbers of youth experiencing homelessness in this area identify as LGBTQ+, which often leads to stronger disconnections between youth and positive adult relationships. West County is also characterized by rural environment, transportation challenges and a serious lack of affordable housing units. All of which require specialty services tailored specifically to meet these needs for young people. Often time, youth that our staff works with in West County are experiencing generational homelessness and poverty. This combined with the lack of employment and development opportunities makes it extremely difficult for youth to become self-sufficient and independent.

How SAY helps in West County

SAY’s Street Outreach Team spends one day a week connecting with young people who are at risk of becoming homeless or are currently experiencing homelessness in this area, and meets their most immediate needs by handing out socks, food, hygiene supplies and critical referrals to key services. Our team’s mission is to engage these vulnerable youth with goals of safety, trusting relationships, mental health support and connecting them to services that can lead to permanent housing.

SAY’s Counseling Department also provides no cost grief counseling at one middle school in West County. These grief services include grief groups for students, education support regarding grief for guardians, and training for school staff on how to identify and support grieving students. Through our counseling department we also provide school-based mental health services at the REACH Charter School in Sebastopol.

Lastly, our Housing Department is part of a collective of service providers in the lower Russian River area that provides specialized housing services to youth ages 18-24. We focus on working with youth to increase their income and provide crisis management to support entire families with tools to handle life’s toughest challenges.

Why we sleep

Our goal is to advocate and raise awareness for the youth that spend many cold nights vulnerable to the elements. Sonoma County currently has one of the highest rates per capita of homeless youth in the United State; these young people need our support, care and compassion. This event is a key demonstration to young people experiencing homelessness that our community cares – that we cannot stay indoors while so many youth remain vulnerable outside. Every dollar raised by our Sleepers directly supports SAY’s services that help put youth on the path to success and self-sufficiency.

One Cold Night West County Sleepers include Matt Brewer, Che Casul, Neysa Hinton, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Lana McNamara, Samantha Mineo, Troy Niday, Jenny Tamayo, Amie Windsor and more! Click here to see the full list of West County Sleepers.

How you can help

Three ways you can make a difference for young people in Sonoma County