BY KAYLEE DUFF
(Photos by Emily Hirzel)
Huckleberry House, a Columbus youth homeless shelter, is so much more than just a shelter.
Found deep in the heart of Columbus, Huckleberry House has been serving at-risk and homeless youth since 1970. Huck House’s main goal is connecting young people with “home” — whatever that home may look like. Sometimes that means reunifying them back with their family. Sometimes that means connecting with friends, other relatives, a foster family. Sometimes that even means helping them create a new home of their own.
Huckleberry House is part of the nationally recognized Safe Place program. This means that Huck House is dedicated to providing a safe and affirming location for youth in need of immediate help and safety.
According to the 2017 Huckleberry House Annual Report, they have provided 17,850 nights of shelter and 10,504 hours of counseling and support throughout their four programs.
A safe alternative to the streets
The Huck House shelter provides housing for teens ages 12 to 17. It gives them a temporary place to stay with the ultimate goal of reunifying them safely with their family, if possible. They are provided a bed, hot meals, counseling programs and assistance finding their next step.
TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAM
Help setting up a home of their own
This program is for youth ages 17 to 22, who do not have a safe home. It’s designed to help set them up in a new home of their own, while teaching them the skills they need to successfully maintain their new space. They have access to a furnished apartment and are provided community support and services, if needed.
FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Support for solving tough family problems
Huck House provides counseling to youth ages 12 to 22, to help young adults and their families build safe, supportive homes. This is led by mental health professionals and is conducted in a variety of settings to help families identify strengths, develop coping skills and change negative behaviors.
When you can’t come to Huck House, Huck House will come to you
The Youth Outreach Program (YOP) is a street-based counseling service that connects
youth to the support they need. The YOP Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to help young people on their own terms.
“Issues such as violence, neglect, abuse and poverty have taken their lives far off the beaten path,” the Annual Report reads. And it’s Huck House’s mission is to help those young adults back on the journey towards the future they want and deserve.
Huck House also gives out scholarship funds to youth in their programs who are committed to pursuing higher education goals. In 2017, they gave out $12,000 in 5 separate scholarships.
In addition to providing shelter, care and support services to youth, Huck House also provides items such as clothes and personal care products.
Here’s a list of items on their wish list:
- Clothing (underwear, sweatpants, sweatshirts, shorts, T-shirts, socks)
- Composition notebooks/journals
- Adult coloring books
- Art supplies (including colored pencils)
- “Smell goods” (i.e. Bath & Body Works)
- Hygiene products (deodorant, shampoo/ conditioner, body soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, combs)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Ethnic hair care products
- Baby items
- Solid color twin comforters
- Home items (kitchen utensils, general cleaning and laundry supplies, picture frames)
- Non-perishable food items (crackers, cup of soup, fruit snacks, chips)
- Gift cards, $5 to $25 (for fast food restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations)
Visit huckhouse.org/wish-list for more a full list of needed donation items and instructions on how to help out.
To learn more about Huckleberry House and their mission, visit their official website. There, you can find links with details about donating, volunteering and more. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for news, updates and event info.