For so many youth, where they are going to lay their head down at night or where their next meal may come from is a constant battle. Especially during COVID-19 times and schools being closed, their outlets are scarce.
“We provide community assistance throughout the counties for anyone who has any kind of emergency need that can stop in and we assist them. Plus, we own and operate camp Nazareth and have CYO Basketball and a variety of other programs and one of them is our emergency shelter for young boys, Grady’s Way.”—Denise Cavanaugh- Executive Director of Catholic Charities
The shelter opened last year in February of 2020. It has 11 beds for male youth , ages 12-18 who are homeless, “There’s some programs in our county for young women, there were none for young men and none in the continuous counties , including Herkimer and Madison county as well.”
With schools being closed and resulting to remote learning, due to the pandemic, the organization is having difficulty receiving referrals to help youth in need of shelter.
“We do rely on referrals from the social workers and counselors in the schools and as you know Utica school has been totally virtual and many of the surrounding school districts have been somewhat virtual or hybrid.”
They have been utilizing other resources, “Reaching out to other agencies, to the police department, to the school districts, to really to find the kids.”
Since the shelter was only open a month before COVID hit, Cavanaugh says the staff has adjusted well, “In this virtual environment, our staff is really well versed to help the youth with school work and we’ve had some really great success, even if a youth has only stayed a night.”
The staff is equip to assist the youth in any way they need even during a pandemic.