Youth Services of Tulsa:
A Talk & Tour recap
On January 22, I participated in a lunchtime Talk & Tour at Youth Services of Tulsa. Although I'd passed their campus on third street many times before (I used to take pottery at 3rd Street Clayworks before YST expanded into that space), I'd only been inside the facility once, to drop off items for their Gifts of Hope program in December--which is when I found out about their lunchtime tours.
Nor did I know much about YST programs, which, in addition to Gifts of Hope (essentially an Angel Tree for teenage recipients), include an emergency shelter, drop-in center, counseling, youth court and much more. These programs all fall under four broader categories: Runaway and Homeless Services, Counseling, Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development. Here are a few highlights:
1. The Station: Drop-In Center
YST also provides a drop-in center for homeless youth ages 16-24. This facility includes a large-screen TV, a wall of guitars, games--both video games and games like cornhole--comfy couches where youth can nap during the day (something that is necessary because if they are living on the streets they may not feel comfortable sleeping at night), and a large room full of donated clothes ready to be given to young men and women who need them.
2. Adolescent Emergency Shelter
No teen (ages 12-18) in Tulsa should ever have to be without a place to stay. YST's Adolescent Emergency Shelter is open 24 hours a day and provides "warm beds, hot meals, showers, clean clothes and a caring staff to help youth in crisis return to safe and stable living environments," according to a YST brochure.YST also has a Transitional Living Program for homeless teens ages 17-22 so they can learn to live more independently.
3. Counseling Services
Anyone with a tween/teen should be aware of Youth Services of Tulsa's counseling programs. According to the brochure, "No one is ever turned away for inability to pay"--rather, payment is made on a sliding scale based on income. Furthermore, there is not a waiting list because, as the speaker at our Talk & Tour pointed out, if a teen needs counseling services they probably need immediate intervention. Counseling services offered include individual, family and home-based counseling.
4. Coffee House
This is another service that any teen (ages 12-18) can take advantage of. Coffee House is basically just a hangout spot located on the YST campus. It is open on Saturdays from 7-11 p.m. Wi-fi, admission and coffee beverages (provided by QuikTrip) are all free. Furthermore, there are often special activities scheduled like live music.
5. T-Town Tacos
I'd heard of T-Town Tacos, but I didn't realize it was a program of YST. However, this is a key way in which YST can teach youth employment and social skills. You can purchase T-Town tacos downtown--the youth sell them out of red tricycles--as well as at Take 2 Cafe on Tuesday mornings (7-9 a.m.) and at The Willows Family Ales on Wednesday evenings starting at 5 p.m. (until they're sold out). I know about The Willows Family Ales one because my husband participates in a bike ride there on Wednesday evenings and has confirmed that T-Town Tacos are delicious. All proceeds benefit YST, and they are $3 apiece.
That is just a very small portion of everything YST does for the youth in Tulsa. If you're interested in learning more, upcoming Talk & Tour Tuesdays dates are: March 26, May 21, July 23, September 24 and November 26. Register at yst.org/reserve-a-tour. And, if you are interested in donating to Youth Services of Tulsa, you can check out their Wishlist here or donate directly here.