Nonprofit Opens Day Center For Homeless Teenagers
OKLAHOMA CITY - It's the first of its kind in the metro. A day center for homeless teens and young adults who would otherwise have nowhere to go for help.
Thousands of teens as young as 15 don't have a place to call home in our area. We're talking more than 10,000 young people in the metro experiencing homelessness.
Penny Reynolds, once homeless herself, said that's unacceptable. She launched the nonprofit program, "SISU Youth."
Sisu is Finnish for determination, bravery and resilience.
The center on Sovereign Row, just south of Interstate 40 off of Meridian, is the beginning of what Reynolds believes will be a program that will empower young people who often times feel powerless.
“They're still good people, and they deserve a chance," said Reynolds. "There is hope, and they are somebody, and they're going to be somebody even better.”
Penny said there is no emergency shelter available for young adults between the ages of 15 to 24, and there are thousands of young adults who need housing, independent living advisement, education support and workforce training.
Penny is on a mission to provide that support.
“It's about seeing the look in their eye when they know that somebody cares,” Reynolds said.
Nearly 8,400 teenagers across the metro identify themselves as homeless. That's not including the more than 2,000 who are unaccounted for.
“There's a large definition of homelessness, especially when it comes to youth,” Reynolds said.
Right now, her new SISU Youth center is open for young adults on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the goal is to get it going 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“All volunteer driven. We are going to make it happen," said Reynolds. "We're going to be 'SISU.' We're going to make it happen against all odds.”
This has been a personal mission for Penny for a number of years.
“Not everyone has given up on them,” Reynolds said.
Among the volunteers are counselors, a music therapist and even a therapeutic yoga instructor.