YSB Press Release Announcement 1-21-2014

Ms. Sara Turner, longtime resident of Arcata, California, has always had a place in her heart for helping youth. She saw an opportunity to make a difference in this community by making a donation to support services for youth in need. 

After reading about the “National Day of Giving”, and recognizing the importance of giving locally, she made the decision to donate $100,000.00 from the James D. and Sara M. Turner Trust to Redwood Community Action Agency’s (RCAA) Youth Service Bureau (YSB).

“We were deeply touched by her generosity and sincere desire to support programs that serve youth of all ages”, Val Martinez, Executive Director of Redwood Community Action Agency, said of the James D. and Sara M. Turner Trust donation.

“We plan to leverage this tremendous gift to fund the development of services that assist a growing number of young adults 18-21 years of age in the Foster Care system who still have a need for direction and support”, she added. 

RCAA plans to utilize the James D. and Sara M. Turner Trust funds as seed money to help purchase an apartment building in Eureka which will house these vulnerable members of our community. Martinez explained that recently passed state legislation (AB12) now extends funding for the continued support of these young adults after they are over the age of 18. This funding will provide for their living expenses, but it does not provide funding for purchasing and maintaining housing for them.

RCAA’s goal is to provide these youth with stable housing and the skills and training necessary to succeed.

When Ms. Turner was asked why she wanted to assist foster care youth she replied, “Growing up is difficult for many, if not most, young people - whether they have two parents, or come from a single-parent family, whether they are poor or affluent. What it takes to grow the belief “I’m okay” is not readily definable, but a secure, safe and affordable place to live is a first step. I really believe it takes a community to make it happen.”

The RCAA Youth Service Bureau (YSB) has been serving Humboldt County since 1984 as one of the few transitional living programs for youth in California. It is the only program providing these services within a radius of 135 miles. Although national statistics point to an overall decrease in homelessness, which is supported by the most recent Humboldt County Point In Time survey, the number of former foster care youth experiencing housing instability remains high. According to a study of former foster youth conducted by Chapin Hall, up to 40% of eligible foster youth will experience homelessness within 18 months of discharge from the system.

These youth are frequently not prepared to live on their own and need additional support to make the transition from foster youth to independent, productive community members. RCAA Youth Service Bureau staff plan to offer the following services for these youth: case management, life skills training, financial literacy, nutrition and meal preparation, grocery shopping, resume building, job skill development, social interaction and medical and mental health support. The short term goals are to prevent homelessness and provide youth a helping hand. With the help and support this program will give them, the long term goal is to assist the youth in becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of the community.

“We are reaching out today and inviting community members to join RCAA’s Solid Ground Campaign to raise funds for the purchase of an apartment building to house former Foster Care youth - the first big step in supporting youth in attaining these goals”, said Ms. Maura Eastman, Director of the Youth Service Bureau.

For more information about the Solid Ground Campaign or RCAA’s Youth Service Bureau, please contact Maura Eastman at (707) 443-8322 extension 203, or Redwood Community Action Agency at (707)269-2001.