March 24, 2020
Dear Sunset Youth Services Family,
Some of you have asked how our youth community is responding to COVID-19 and how you might help. We so appreciate your thinking about us and reaching out to check in.
When times get tough, we sing. “Lockdown in CA” by co-founders Ron and Dawn Stueckle
On March 16th, with input from a board member who is a specialist in infectious diseases and based on recommendations from the SF Department of Public Health, we closed our Youth Center and suspended all center-based programs in order to keep our young people and their families healthy and safe, and to do our part in preventing the spread of the virus.
This decision was not made lightly. We provide a lifeline to families and young people in crisis and this new, evolving scenario has added an extra layer of isolation, bewildering uncertainty, and destabilizing stress to already overburdened individuals.
Our young people and families depend on us to provide:
• a safe space to hang out, free from drugs and violence
• caring relationships and loving connection to stabilize mental health
• healing arts programs
• an on-site charter school
• groceries and daily meals
• parenting crisis support and classes
• paid internships, leadership opportunities, and youth employment
• support after incarceration and assistance meeting probation requirements
As an “essential business” that provides “food, social services and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals” we are continuing to meet the many critical needs of our youth community within the constraints we’ve been given.
Our staff are working from home––connecting regularly with youth via texts, FaceTime, and phone calls. Young people who rely on us for income have been assured that they will continue to receive paychecks during the shelter-in-place order. In fact, we’re engaging youth to curate music and videos on social media, and participate in online games and challenges while they’re cooped up at home.
Additionally, staff are providing virtual job coaching, assistance with unemployment benefits for youth who have been laid off from jobs in the general workforce, and are conceiving online career workshops to keep our kids on track with their goals. Case managers are resourcing young people in need, helping them meet their probation obligations, and keeping in touch with the Courts. Our Family Success Team is connecting with stressed out families, delivering games, and helping parents brainstorm how to handle squirrelly kids.
Our team is also assessing tech access for each youth, identifying gap areas, and making sure everyone is able to stay connected. Meanwhile we continue to work with local partners (such as Peet’s Coffee,
the Food Bank, and Trader Joe’s) to deliver food boxes to under-resourced youth and families around
Want to help us continue providing these essential services at a critical time of instability? Please join us in taking care of these precious families and young people and make a sustaining donation today!
Thank you so much for being with us in this essential work of love!
With great hope,