Finishing up a Volunteer Shift Together
Clipboards in hand, Araceli and her father Jaime Zamorana are finishing up their four-hour shift at the entrance of the Eddy House in downtown Reno, greeting other volunteers and youth living on the streets who today are ready to be counted for the 2018 Homeless Youth Point in Time Count.
Inside, the front rooms of the drop-in resource center are filled with art, generosity and a joyous mood. Employees from Great Clips hair salons are giving away free but still very stylish haircuts. Some youth who spent the night on cots in the Eddy House’s chill room are still warm inside, giggling and full of energy after eating Burritos.
“They looked so happy to wake up comfortable somewhere, and be able to immediately grab breakfast. They were saying ‘oh my gosh burritos …’ They were so excited, so that was really nice to see,” Araceli says.
Looking to Become a Seven Day a Week, 24-Hour Center
The Eddy House also wishes it could be like this every day of the year, where it wouldn’t just be a Monday to Friday business hours drop-in operation, but a fully-funded seven days a week around the clock program.
A posting on their website indicates the center is in need of a $1.5 million annual budget to accomplish this goal, which they say is equivalent to the money northern Nevada casinos raked in just last night.
Araceli, 21 and currently in the Human Development and Family Studies program at UNR, agrees: “There’s a lot of bad influences out on the streets, so if they had a place where they always felt safe and comfortable, it would be much better for them.” Jaime, who works for a property management company, says without a 24-hour center, it’s very difficult for kids to get a job or to stay in school.
No Home to Turn Back To at Night or When Rents Go Up
Araceli says when her own rent went up recently, she moved back in with her parents, a luxury youths on the streets don’t have.
“A lot of the youths say they can’t go back home, even if they had the opportunity they wouldn’t, because it’s not a safe place for them. They don’t consider it a safe place,” she said.
The survey task is given to the young adults among the volunteers. “There is kind of that connection there so they aren’t afraid to open up and talk about certain things,” Araceli explains.
All Around Volunteers
Jaime says it’s his wife, a social worker, who inspired him, Araceli and his other daughter to volunteer. They also help at food banks, the Nevada Humane Society, the Give Kids a Smile program, and with Habitat for Humanity.
“We are grateful for how fortunate we are,” Araceli says. “My Mom had a rough upbringing so they like to let us know how hard it is for people out there who are less fortunate than we are. We like to do what we can.”
Araceli also tries to inspire her friends to also volunteer.
“It just feels good, to know that you are helping somebody,” she says. “Even if it’s just putting a smile on someone’s face, they like the company. I do have friends who tell me it’s so amazing that I do this, but then they never try to until I tell them exactly what we do, and then some come out and volunteer with me, after I let them know how awesome it is.”
Today she felt inspired herself by how busy and productive the Eddy House felt.
“Some of the kids, they’re leaving and grabbing more people to come back here. The word is going out. I’ve seen it all over the local social media. New people are getting introduced to the Eddy House. This is a place that’s so great. It deserves help from all of us.”
Photos and Reporting by Our Town Reno on January 25, 2018