Ogden shelter hopes to end youth homelessness by spending a night in their shoes

OGDEN, Utah — Homeless youth on the street is something many Utahns don’t see.

There are an estimated 5,000 youth who spend at least one night on the street every year in Utah, according to Cheri Bambrough, the community development coordinator for Youth Futures.

“Imagine sleeping out on a night like tonight and then getting up and going to school tomorrow,” she said.

More than 100 people are expected to participate in the Youth Futures 6th Annual SleepOut to raise awareness and funds to end youth homelessness. From 7 pm on Saturday until Sunday at 7 am, volunteers and community members will endure the cold and rain in the Youth Futures back parking lot.

Some volunteers with the shelter, like Alexis Astle, have experienced homelessness themselves.

“I was sleeping in my car for a couple months,” she said. “I was lucky enough to be homeless in the summers so I didn’t have to deal with this harsh weather.”

Astle said Youth Futures would have helped her a lot if it existed when she was sleeping in the streets.

“They’ll help them with their schoolwork, they’ll provide resources to help them graduate, to help them get jobs, to help them get back in their feet, to help them get housing,” said Astle. “It’s so much more than just feed and shelter.”

Spending one November night outside, with warm soup and fires, isn’t quite the experience of homelessness, said Bambrough.

“We have a choice,” she said. “Everyone that’s here tonight chose to be here. We do it because we want to and because we care about the youth. “

The SleepOut is just about giving a voice to the children in our community who need help the most, she said.

“If we can’t make it out there one night, imagine what those kids go through 365 nights of the year.”

Youth Future’s goal is to raise $150,000 by the end of the month. They will be holding another Sleep Out event in St George next weekend. You can find out more and donate here.

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