CEDARS Street Outreach Services (SOS) provides street-based assistance to runaway, homeless and at-risk youth in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Street Outreach staff work with youth between the ages of 13 and 21 years of age.
“My parents didn’t want me at home,” says one youth who has been helped by the CEDARS Street Outreach team. “I felt alone. Everything was coming down at once and I felt that no one was in my corner.”
Without pressure or judgment, Street Outreach staff members support youth experiencing homelessness as they work to leave the streets for safe shelter, secure permanent living arrangements, or to reunite with their families.
“CEDARS provided me with shelter, food, everything I needed,” says the youth. “Right now they’re helping me budget. A lot of things I didn’t learn I’m learning now.”
At the Youth Opportunity Center, homeless and at-risk youth can “drop-in” to receive a hot meal, do laundry, follow hygiene routines, complete job and housing applications, receive education support, and simply sit and relax in a safe environment.
In the past fiscal year, the CEDARS Street Outreach team supported over 200 youth who needed a more intensive level of support, meeting with staff at least three times during a month.
“CEDARS helped me know that there’s hope for everybody out there,” the youth says. “I’m not alone.”
Street Outreach staff members can be contacted 24-hours a day. Advocacy, information, and support services are also available to youth in schools, juvenile court, juvenile detention centers, other human service agencies and churches.
“Homelessness is their circumstance right now,” CEDARS Street Outreach Program Director, Christina Lloyd says, “but it doesn't make the person who they are. It doesn’t define them. We’re honored to be here with the support of the community to assist them.”
Currently the team is seeking donations of individually wrapped snacks to hand out along with information to youth in need during monthly Food Markets in local schools. Donations can be dropped off at 6601 Pioneers Blvd. Financial contributions are also welcomed.