Youth shelter to celebrate 10 years

The Huntington Beach Youth Shelter will celebrate its 10th anniversary since reopening with an open house June 7 that will also conclude its latest fundraiser.

The shelter first opened in 1994 after community members raised money to repair a city-owned bungalow near the central library to host at-risk youths and a nonprofit agreed to run the facility, said Elsa Greenfield, program director.

The nonprofit backed out about a decade later when it became increasingly difficult to run the organization because of costs and the demanding work, causing the shelter to be shut down.

It reopened in 2006 with six beds when Greenfield and her nonprofit, Community Service Program, which also operated a shelter in Laguna Beach, came to an agreement with the city to run the shelter.

Since then, the number of beds has doubled, and the short-term shelter has helped more than 1,160 youths ages 11 to 17 suffering abuse at home, drug use, homelessness and suicidal thoughts.

About 90% of the children who have been aided by the shelter in the 10 years have been reunited with their parents, Greenfield said, citing group and individual counseling sessions as a primary reason.

She also said the shelter offers the children career advice and academic help, until they can get into stable homes.

The goal is to keep the kids off the streets, out of jails and back with their families, Greenfield said.

"The shelter has proven to be highly effective in keeping youth safe," she said. "We help hold families together and set people on a better course in life."

While the shelter building is owned by the city, Community Service Program still has to cover utility costs and maintenance.

Tuesday's open house will conclude the shelter's 2016 Change for Change fundraiser, an annual tradition since 2008 during which coins — paper money is also accepted — are collected at various city events. The idea is to get people to turn over loose change that might be weighing down pockets and purses.

This year, the shelter is hoping to raise $30,000.

The free event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at the shelter, 7291 Talbert Ave. Three former youth shelter residents will speak about their experiences, and city officials including Police Chief Robert Handy and resident Hector Valdez will be recognized for their assistance.

brittany.woolsey@latimes.com

Twitter: @BrittanyWoolsey

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