SALT LAKE CITY -- During the day, Natascha Deininger walks around Salt Lake City, looking for those living there during the night.
“They’re kind of falling through the cracks,” Deininger said.
Throughout the winter months, the city’s homeless youth are often times left out in the cold. Deininger hopes to make the nights a little easier, as part of Volunteers of America’s youth outreach program.
“They’ll get all the blankets they can,” Deininger said. “They’ll get hand warmers, foot warmers and just hope they’ll make it through the night.”
While the VOA has a daytime shelter to offer food, clothing and services, they don’t have a place for homeless youth to stay at night.
It’s a need they’re planning to fill with the construction of a $6 million project.
“We know that there needs to be a place for youth, both to be safe, but more importantly to thrive,” said Zach Bales, who is the chief development officer for VOA Utah.
On Friday, the organization launched its last fundraising effort to building a 24-hour facility, located in what is currently an empty lot at 900 South 400 West.
The facility will provide food and employment assistance, as well as 30 beds for those who need one.
“It’s really nice to have the VOA to help me with food when I don’t have the money to do it myself,” said Ty Hubbard, who relies on the organization.
VOA still has to raise $1 million before they can begin their project, but it’s a cost they see as an investment in the city’s youth.
“Almost all the youth who come into our center really want employment and really want autonomy in their lives, and self-sufficiency,” Deininger said.
If you would like to assist with the effort, you can make a donation by visiting VOA Utah's website.
The group hopes to break ground on the project by March, in order to begin servicing youth by next winter.