Local Treasures with Pia: Crosswalk Youth Shelter is planning move out of downtown

Spokane, Washington – Crosswalk Youth Shelter was founded in 1985 and it is the oldest and largest youth shelter in Eastern Washington. Located in downtown Spokane, the shelter is open 24-7 and serves around 100 youth, every year.

There are many reasons why a young person between the ages of 13 and 17 may find themselves on the street: perhaps their family was destroyed by drugs, or they are trying to escape violence at home.

“When they come to us they have exhausted all other options for places to stay,” said Beth McRae, annual giving manager for Crosswalk, which is a program under Volunteers of America. “We give them three meals a day, can provide medical advocacy and connect them with youth support resources.” McRae added that Crosswalk’s mission is reunification with parents or family, whenever that is possible.

Crosswalk’s location on Howard Street and Second Avenue is small and it’s seen a lot of heavy use. The 21 shelter beds are packed away during the day, to free up space for classes and dining, then put out again at night. On a busy day the place is bursting at the seams.

McRae said Crosswalk is in the middle of a big fundraising campaign that will allow the shelter to move to a new building on Mission Avenue, near Spokane Community College. The new location will add a dorm for youths who are ready for more independent but still managed living, and separate the daily-use sleeping and dining areas. CHAS will have a clinic located on the same property, making access to health services as lot easier for the youth.

“We also have a great working relationship with SCC and we will be right across the street from them,” McRae said, adding that the youth clients were eager for the shelter to leave downtown. “They really want to be part of a regular neighborhood with a park.”

Fundraising for the new $19.6 million facility has gone well including funding from the State of Washington, the Murdoch Foundation as well as the city and the county. McRae said the shelter needs another $2 million to be ready to start construction in 2023. A grant from the Avista Foundation will bring the fundraising campaign one step closer to success.

“Hopefully we can start building in June of 2023, and we aren’t abandoning downtown,” McRae said. “We will have our outreach teams continue to go out downtown.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $12 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

Learn more about Volunteers of America and Crosswalk by visiting https://www.voaspokane.org/crosswalk.

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