8The Story of a Safe Haven
The AHO Cottage has been the home base of Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity (AHO) nonprofit organization since its inception in January 2005. The Cottage has functioned as a Safe Haven emergency shelter for homeless youth ages 16 to 25 which AHO serves for 3 years, from 2010 through 2012. Today the Cottage continues as a Drop-In location for youth and for Youth Team meetings, board meetings, AHO fundraising-events, meetings with host family members and AHO adult ally coaches.
Cottage Safe Haven History
In 2010, Safe Haven emergency shelter was added to the Cottage to provide short-term 24/7 housing for youth until they could be matched with an adult ally coach and an appropriate longer-term housing option. Youth were then connected with the comprehensive supportive resources AHO offers youth through its 165-member Alliance for Youth service partner network. These resources include employment, medical and dental care, educational support for college, legal aid and other basic needs so youth can move forward in their lives.
The Cottage Safe Haven was managed and staffed 24/7 by a licensed professional with extensive experience with at-risk youth and was able to accommodate 1 or 2 youth at a time for a period of 1 to 10 days. The Cottage offered meals and showers in a cozy home-like setting located conveniently a few blocks from transportation. Youth’s living space had a private entrance with bedroom in an apartment-like setting. Youth staying at the Cottage “gave back” for the support they were receiving by helping with upkeep of the Cottage as needed which included yard work and other chores. One hundred and thirty-eight youth had this temporary shelter at the Cottage during the years it was operating.
Prior to staying at the Cottage, a youth would meet one-on-one with the Executive Director for a brief intake interview, including a mental health assessment, to ensure the setting was an appropriate fit. While at the Cottage, youth would be matched with an adult ally coach and connected with the resources they wanted to help move them forward toward their personalized life goals.
AHO has successfully provided its comprehensive safety net of support to over 3,824 homeless young adults in 18 years that are now in stable housing, working 1 to 3 jobs, going to school and “giving back” to AHO.
AHO is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization supported solely by gifts of time, money and materials generously given by individuals, organizations, businesses and foundations dedicated to making this a better community, both locally and globally, for everyone.
AHO receives no government funding and relies on the community to help provide the safety net and hand-up to youth that have no family support or resources to fulfill their potential to become contributing adults.