Community Invited to Discuss Challenges and Resources for Youth

May 1, 2017 (TAOS, NM) -- The Red River community―especially parents, counselors, business leaders, teens―are invited to the “Let them know they’re not alone,” community forum on Youth, May 16th, at 6p.m. at the Red River Fire Department, to discuss and identify the greatest challenges facing the region’s youth, with a focus on how to keep Red River teens safe and educated about resources available to them.

Red River Fire Department and DreamTree Project will host the forum, which also serves to kick off their partnership to make the Red River Fire Department a National Safe Place site.

The National Safe Place program brings together businesses and volunteers to offer help and safety for youth facing abuse, neglect, bullying or serious family problems. As a National Safe Place site, the Red River Fire Department will display a Safe Place sign on their building. When a person enters seeking help, they’ll be met with someone trained to connect them with DreamTree Project in Taos for further assistance.

“This is just the first step,” said Catherine Hummel, Executive Director for DreamTree Project, an emergency teen shelter, transitional home and resource for youth serving northern New Mexico. “We’re excited to start a conversation within our communities to assess challenges and create a safety net for youth.”

The Safe Place program is a national network of more than 20,000 partnering businesses and community locations, which display the Safe Place sign in their windows. Outside of business hours, Safe Place sites post a phone number which will connect the caller with DreamTree Project staff and resources anytime, day or night. 

Currently there are two Safe Place sites in the Enchanted Circle: the Red River Fire Department and the Questa Health Center; additionally the North Central Regional Transit District’s fleet of blue buses are each a mobile Safe Place, with drivers trained to connect youth with DreamTree Project.

According to the 2015 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, 6.3% of youth statewide in New Mexico experience housing instability annually, though locally the rates even are higher: 8.3% of youth in Taos County and 6.7% of youth in Colfax County.   

“With partnerships like this with the Red River Fire Department and North Central Regional Transit District, and with input and volunteers from community, we can do so much more to make sure young people know they are not alone, that they have options and a place to feel safe,” said Hummel.

DreamTree Project has served youth throughout northern New Mexico since 1998. In 2000 they launched a Transitional Living Program, and in 2011 expanded services to include an Emergency Youth Shelter.

The DreamTree Project Emergency Youth Shelter can accommodate eight residents, ages 12 - 17, for up to 90 days, while staff at DreamTree Project help evaluate the  situation and navigate their options.

The Transitional Living Program at DreamTree Project is available to young people ages 16-24. DreamTree Project has capacity for up to 16 youth here who can stay for up to two years. 

“Young people don’t have to figure things out entirely on their own, and when we work together within our communities, we can make sure more teens and young people know this,” said Hummel.

For more information about the “Let them know they’re not alone,” a community forum and opportunity to explore ways to help more youth, visit DreamTree Project on Facebook.

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LEMON creative