MAKING LAS VEGAS A BETTER PLACE A LIVE
Las Vegas homeless teens find help
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- When an organization makes a mistake, Action News will let you know. And we did when the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth faced a slew of accusations about a year ago.
But, we took notice recently when the county teamed up with the NPHY to secure a $1 million grant. It turns out, the organization has several new board members, new programs and new safeguards in place.
It's also passed a slew of audits with flying colors. If you look past all of this, you see an organization that's not just improving lives, it's saving them and making Las Vegas a better place to live.
19-year-old Zafra remembers the first night she came here to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. "It was frightening. I was 16 years old."
When she was a young girl, Zafra's mother was deported. Her father is an alcoholic so life with him became increasingly violent. "My school counselor knew I had issues with my dad. So she was like, 'I'm calling Safeplace and they picked me up and they brought me here."
Unfortunately, Zafra's story is not unique. There are more than 6,000 homeless youth in Clark County Schools. When they come here, they can shower, eat, use computers, get help finding a job, or transition into more permanent housing. Executive Director Arash Ghafoori says they're not bad kids, but they've been dealt a rough hand.
"Imagine a circumstance where a youth has done nothing wrong but they'd rather spend the night in the cold dark streets than being in whatever situation they escaped from. "
They offer a slew of services. Too many to list and all designed to get kids off the streets immediately. Once the crisis has passed, they help them transition into housing and jobs. Ghafoori says, "They all have a case plan. They either have to be in school or a job or volunteer service, taking classes, whatever it may be."
Zafra's past may not be unique here, but her future most certainly is. She lives with two other teens in transitional housing. She works as an after-school program coordinator for the Girl Scouts. And she is going to college to become a registered nurse.
"I think I'm just really blessed. I know some people in my situation would have given up or other things would have happened to them."
The program does have countless success stories. One young man who'd been living under the bleechers at his high school for 3 months is now going to the University of Arizona studying pre-med.
Also, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has picked the NPHY
as a social work practicum sight. So students stuying social work will do clinical rotations there.