Lehi’s Chadwick supports disadvantaged youth in prom attire drive
Brynn Carnesecca | Lehi Free Press
With homelessness on the rise, many teens and young adults in Utah find themselves without shelter and community. Volunteers of America, located in Salt Lake County, acts as a drop-in resource center and emergency shelter for such youth.
“We provide essential basic need items, such as three hot meals a day, pantry food, showers, laundry, life-skills groups, housing and employment case management, dental and medical care assistance, as well as access to mental health services on-site,” explains the Volunteers of America website. Additionally, in the evening, the facility transforms into an emergency shelter with over 30 beds for youth.
The Youth Resource Center (YRC) accepts anyone aged 15-22 who is currently homeless or facing potential displacement. Between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., youth who meet the requirements are welcome to visit the facility and enroll. Once enrolled in the program, services are provided to individuals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“The YRC helps homeless youth not only by sheltering them but also by providing the opportunity to better their lives through education and training. They also have programs for overcoming addiction and becoming self-sufficient,” says Heather Chadwick, a volunteer at the YRC.
Semiannually, Heather Chadwick of Lehi helps to plan a summer bash and prom for the residents of the YRC. This year, over half of the prom dresses gathered for the event were destroyed due to a roof leak.
To support the YRC and YESS programs, Heather Chadwick of Lehi plans to gather prom attire donations for the youth enrolled in these programs.
“I hope this helps the youth have more experiences that other teens can have, helps them forget their problems for a few hours and have fun. I also hope it helps them see that they are loved and cared for by the volunteers, that their lives matter to us,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick is gathering dresses, suits and shoes of all sizes for the YRC prom. Assorted items for goody bags and food are also needed.
The YRC is also currently searching for volunteers for the event. Volunteers can expect to help with hair, makeup, nails, chaperone, or serve dinner to residents.
Enrollment in the YRC allows homeless youth to participate in activities, access legal support, and work with the staff to find employment and housing opportunities. Activities at the YRC range from social gatherings, such as movie and craft nights, to practical options, such as picking up needed hygiene supplies and group therapy sessions.
In tandem with the YRC, Volunteers of America is also home to the Youth Empowered Solutions to Succeed (YESS) program. This group offers support for youth ages 16-25 who may have mental health issues or housing instability.
According to the YESS program’s website, “Treatment and support offered through the program include case management, mental health therapy and support, supported employment, supported education, peer support services, referral to other community supports and agencies.”
Prom donations can be dropped off in Lehi (ERA Brokers Consolidated office M-F, 9-5), Payson (Era Office M-F, 9-5), Salt Lake City (YRC), or Ogden (Youth Impact).
Additional donations can be made to the YRC through volunteer hours or monetary donations. The YRC is currently searching for volunteers to prepare and serve meals and mentor youth. For more information on volunteering, visit https://www.voaut.org/volunteer.