Plaque honors founders of H.B. Youth Shelter

When the city dedicated a plaque Saturday honoring the founders of the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter, Carol Kanode thought of another person without whom the project might never have started.

That was the Ocean View High School student who came to Kanode in 1987 and explained that her mother had thrown her out of the house. Kanode, a nurse at the school, contacted social services and a youth shelter in Los Alamitos, but the girl didn't want to go to either. Then she disappeared for weeks.

When the girl showed up again at Ocean View, she confessed to Kanode that she had been living on the streets in downtown Huntington and working as a prostitute to make ends meet. Kanode then vowed to help found a youth shelter in her city, and seven years later, with the help of other volunteers, the facility opened its doors.

"I think it's quite a community story," said Kanode, who is now retired and still lives in Huntington.

The stone plaque in the shelter's front garden features the names of Kanode and 13 other founders, plus two Shelter Guild volunteers and several companies that helped bring the shelter into existence. The city held a ceremony at noon Saturday with state Sen. Tom Harman, Mayor Don Hansen and other council members present.

About 40 people attended the dedication and took tours of the 12-bed facility at 7291 Talbert Ave., next to the Huntington Beach Central Library.

The shelter, run by the nonprofit Community Service Programs, takes children and teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17 and offers food, therapy, tutoring and other services. According to program director Elsa Greenfield, 90% of tenants are eventually reunited with their families, with the remainder moving on to social services.

Private donations cover about 75% of the shelter's expenses, with the remainder coming from the federal government.

"The shelter probably wouldn't be open if it weren't for the support we get from the community," Greenfield said.

The City Council plans to honor the shelter with a commendation at its Monday meeting.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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