Bellevue program helps homeless Eastside teens



BELLEVUE, Wash. - When you think about the eastside of Lake Washington, you don't often think about homelessness. Yet beds for homeless teens are filling up four nights a week at a unique program at the Bellevue Family YMCA.

When the pool and workout rooms at the Bellevue family Y empty out, they come.

Homeless teens between 18 and 23 line up in the cold to get one of 12 warm cots. It's called "The Landing," a place where youth can get a place to sleep, a hot shower and laundry facilities, safety and comfort.

"Some of 'em are fleeing abusive situations at home, some have substance abuse problems," said Adam Baldwin, Friends of Youth. "Some of them are failed by a foster care system that abandons them as soon as they turn 18."

"Sarah" just got a job, but still can't afford her own place.

"They give you food at the end of the night when you come in so if you haven't eaten all day," said Sarah. "It's really nice to be able to eat something."

"Jason" finished his first semester at Bellevue Community College.

"It gives me an opportunity to actually concentrate on getting a job, go to school, 'cause I'm in school as well, instead of trying to find a place to sleep," said Jason.

YMCA volunteers have adopted these youth, bringing food and clean linens.

"It's really a big question whenever we go out and talk about this program," said Keri Stout

Bellevue Family YMCA. "People ask, 'Where are these people from?' They're from the eastside. They are our community. And as the Bellevue family YMCA, this is our way to fill a need in our community.

"The Landing" is a labor of love. If you'd like to donate food or cash, you can contact Friends of Youth at (425) 869-6490.


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