Warrack Hospital site offered to youth services agency

  • Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa's Warrack Hospital campus in Santa Rosa, on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

One of Sonoma County's larger youth services organizations is considering expanding into the old Warrack Hospital campus in Santa Rosa, which it has been offered free by Sutter Medical Center.

The move would allow Social Advocates for Youth to grow up to five times in size. The agency now provides about 3,000 young people with services ranging from emergency shelter to counseling.

Though the possibility of creating what has been envisioned as a "Youth Opportunity Center" is real, and intriguing, Social Advocates for Youth officials cautioned that no plans are concrete and they have not accepted Sutter's offer.

"It really isn't a certainty, it's simply something we're exploring at this time," said Matt Martin, executive director of the nonprofit known as SAY.

He said the first task at hand is pinning down the cost of moving to and opening at the new site, located at Summerfield Road and Hoen Avenue. The second is determining whether SAY, which has a staff of 54 and a $3.2 million annual budget, could keep it running.

"It would be to no one's service if we opened the building and couldn't keep it open," Martin said.

The 41-year-old organization is now headquartered in 11,000-square-foot offices on Airway Drive. It has two other facilities in Santa Rosa -- a homeless teen shelter and a transitional facility for foster and homeless youth -- as well as a Sonoma office.

Sutter Medical Center offered them the roughly 52,000-square-foot Warrack campus in August, Martin said. The months since have been spent researching whether the move is possible.

Other youth advocates said a facility that could gather resources and programs serving young people who often face daunting challenges would be instantly useful.

"It would mean everything. I think it would be phenomenal," said Buzzy Martin, a Sebastopol musician who has worked for years with troubled or disadvantaged youth.

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