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Close to Home: Don't throw away this SAY miracle

  • Social Advocates for Youth board president John Meislahn, center, takes community leaders and residents from Bennett Valley through a tour of the old Warrick Hospital on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. Meislahn and SAY proponents are hoping to use the space for housing homeless youth. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Enter another miracle: The former Sutter Warrack Hospital may be given to the community — free of charge. Currently owned by Sutter Health, it has served Sonoma County commendably for decades. Now, Sutter is willing to donate the hospital to an equally commendable organization, SAY.

The Dream Center is an affordable housing option for young people, providing a safe, appropriate alternative to the street. Another miracle, it would offer much more. There are four core areas of service: affordable housing (tenants are screened and pay rent), job training and employment, educational support and health and wellness, each bolstering the well-being of the residents so they can thrive and attain their full potential.

This coordinated service model moves beyond risk-reduction toward a strength-based approach for supporting youth, which, as noted by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, is a research-based model reflecting what we know older children, adolescents and young adults require (i.e., support and monitoring). These are needed to ensure their development is on track and will benefit from trauma-informed supports and services.

When miracles for our community's kids come by, grab them. We proudly embrace SAY's dream: to guide, support and keep safe the miracle of the next generation.

Deborah Nitasaka, a Glen Ellen resident, writer and advocate for farmworker housing, previously served on the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission. Veronica Jacobi is a former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman, foster parent and member of the Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless. Both are members of the Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group.


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