Press conference celebrates the opening of the DreamCatcher shelter for youth’s new building in Oakland.
Alameda County’s only shelter for 13-18 year old youth – DreamCatcher – last weekend opened a brand new building, equipped with its first-ever medical clinic, a new drop-in center, kitchen and residential rooms.
The new building adds six beds to the organization’s capacity. This new wing will be called “Nika’s Place” and will specifically serve formerly sexually exploited girls.
DreamCatcher will move operations from their current building, located next door to the new shelter, in June.
“These children are point zero at the intersection of our greatest social ills, and it is in the fight to save their voices that our communities become stronger and more compassionate, more prepared for a better tomorrow for all our children,” said Amba Johnson, director, DreamCatcher Youth Services.
A dedication ceremony was held Saturday, May 13 speeches from youth who rely on DreamCatcher services, as well as Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Senator Nancy Skinner, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and other Oakland City Councilmembers, many of whom have been champions of the organization and have supported its recent capital campaign.
The building was purchased by a grant from Alameda County in November 2010. Over the last seven years, the small non-profit pieced together grant funding from the federal government, the State of California, Alameda County, City of Oakland and other funding sources to develop the new shelter.
DreamCatcher has been serving homeless and at-risk youth since 1990. Youth access DreamCatcher services for a variety of reasons. Some have grown up homeless and have aged out of the shelters where their parents stay.
Some have been kicked out of their homes for their LGBT status. Some have been forced into labor trafficking while crossing the border, and approximately 40 percent have been sexually exploited.
In addition to shelter, DreamCatcher provides daily meals, counseling, access to laundry machines and a safe place to hang out.