Local Tucson Nonprofit Expands Delivery Services to Homeless Youth
Youth On Their Own’s new pilot program, “Caring Couriers,” was initiated earlier this year in an attempt to increase efficiency and provide additional services to students that struggle with regular access to transportation. Every week, all YOTO students are given the opportunity to take home ten pounds of food from the Mini-Mall at the main office on the corner of Alvernon and Pima. They also have access to clothing, school supplies, and hygiene items.
In the past, when students were unable to visit the Mini-Mall in person, a Program Coordinator would be tasked with delivering their requested items to the student’s School Liaison. YOTO’s Program Manager, Daniela Zasa, and YOTO’s Volunteer Coordinator, Kristin Ohman, saw a way to improve this arrangement and streamline the delivery process. They found that while this service was extremely useful for the students, having the Program Coordinators drop off supplies overwhelmed their schedules and left the Program Coordinators with less time to focus directly on student involvement. Program Manager, Daniela Zasa, estimates that by the end of this year each Program Coordinator will be responsible for close to 500 students.
To alleviate some of this strain, the Caring Courier program allows for YOTO volunteers to deliver the supplies instead. Volunteers meet at YOTO every Tuesday morning, and supply delivery is guaranteed to the students by 2 P.M. that day. Schools with the most student requests are separated by region and assigned to each volunteer. There are currently seven volunteers involved with the Caring Couriers program, but both Daniela and Kristin are enthusiastic about expanding the program next school year.
The Caring Couriers program has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, School Liaisons, and volunteers. Only one week after its implementation, Youth on Their own received an email from a School Liaison saying that students were able to meet with the volunteer and instantly began forming a personal connection. In reference to the pilot program Daniela says, “Requests are getting out quicker to students, and they are SO grateful for the deliveries.” The pilot program is expected to begin running full-time during the 2017-2018 school year.
About Youth On Their Own
Youth On Their Own is a dropout prevention program that supports the high school graduation and continued success of homeless, unaccompanied youth in Pima County. Since 1986, the agency has helped over 16,000 homeless and at-risk teens to stay in school by providing financial assistance, basic human needs, and guidance. More information on the organization’s achievements, success stories, services provided, and key leadership can be found at http://yoto.org.
Youth On Their Own
Kristyn Conner, Director of Development
(520) 293-1136 ext. 115