My Friend’s Place assists and inspires homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.
In 1988, Steve LePore and Craig Scholz initiated a volunteer-led, mobile meal program to distribute sack lunches to the homeless youth in the Hollywood community. Soon the volunteers built trust with the young people and realized that youth are driven to the streets by abuse, abandonment and neglect by families and caregivers. The needs and challenges of homeless youth go well beyond the critical condition of hunger.
Two years later, the volunteer group first opened the doors of a facility they called My Friend’s Place where they began to offer social services and creative opportunities in addition to basic needs . Today, My Friend’s Place is a thriving, professionally staffed drop-in Resource Center serving over 1,700 homeless youth ages 12 to 25 and their children each year. Our primary goal is to lower traditional barriers to service and provide homeless youth with the opportunity to improve their psychological, intellectual and physical capacity to reach their potential.
In collaboration with the leading social services providers and educational institutions in the region as well as over 500 volunteers, we offer a free and comprehensive continuum of care that combines emergency necessities with therapeutic, health, employment and education assistance, and creative arts services through three programmatic areas:
What makes My Friend’s Place unique?
- We are not government or religiously affiliated.
- We are 100% privately funded.
- We serve nearly half of the homeless youth in Los Angeles.
- We are independently and exclusively operated from our Hollywood location.
- We advocate a low barrier service structure which minimizes the psychological, physical, and social barriers that typically deter youth from seeking and accepting assistance from a social service agency.
- We integrate trauma-informed care into our interactions with the youth. This approach considers the past sexual and physical abuse and other trauma-inducing experiences shared by a large segment of the young people we serve, which increases engagement and promotes healthy attachment, self-regulation and developmental skill competency..
- We embrace a strength-based approach in order to preserve dignity and empower youth to uncover their strengths and use them as tools to achieve greater goals.
- We believe in a harm reduction approach, which provides youth with support and education aimed at reducing harm and high-risk behaviors often associated with street survival.
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