Leon County schools reported 797 homeless students during the last school year, so Capital City Youth Services (CCYS) launched an annual event to bring awareness and funding to support these vulnerable youth. More than 35 community leaders and individuals were recruited to give up the comforts of home for one night to sleep outside on Dec. 3, 2015, at CCYS’ main campus. Participants were challenged to raise $797 for the opportunity to sleep in a box and included city and county government leaders, CCYS board members and stakeholders, FSU students and other business and community leaders.
The Sleep Out event succeeded in bringing the issue of youth homelessness to the forefront to get a conversation started about the struggles that homeless youth face and how an at-risk youth could end up in a cycle of homelessness. The event featured a roundtable discussion that focused on three key ideas: awareness, access and action. Local homelessness experts, Sleep Out participants and community leaders were given the opportunity to learn more about the issue, identify how youth can receive services and brainstorm big picture ideas to address youth homelessness.
CCYS’ fundraising goal was set at $25,000 and through the generous support of their Sleep Out leaders and donors; they exceeded their goal, raising $25,244. Proceeds from the Sleep Out will benefit their Going Places Street Outreach Program, which lost significant federal funding during the last competitive grant cycle. While the $25,244 raised will not completely replace the amount lost, it will help keep the Street Outreach Program fully operational until CCYS can reapply in 2016.
CCYS offers emergency shelter, counseling, transitional living and street outreach services to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth in the Big Bend of North Florida. Going Places, a CCYS program, operates a Drop-In Center in Railroad Square for homeless youth to access resources and help exiting the street. All services are free and confidential. Call CCYS’ 24 Hour Hotline for more information about services, 850-576-6000.
CCYS is a member of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services based in Tallahassee. For more information, visit www.floridanetwork.org.