By Lauren Voigtlander
In downtown Eureka, there is a big house off the 101 that is much like every other house in the area. The house is fully equipped with a large, stocked kitchen, a spacious living room filled with couches sprawled on by young kids, an active computer room, multiple bathrooms and even a washer and dryer. Youth of a variety of ages come and go from the house throughout the day, but no one actually lives there.
This house is part of an organization called the Raven Project that helps aid the homeless youth of Humboldt County.
“I used to come to Raven when I was in age range,” said Patrick Malloy 27, who is a street outreach worker and is one of the few adults that help run the Raven Project.
“The Raven Project seeks out youth that are not necessarily seeking shelter, but still need services,” said Malloy. “It’s main goal is to be a youth run space.”
Of all the people in the Raven House on a recent Wednesday, Malloy is the only one that is over 20 years of age. The Raven Project’s main goal is to be a safe haven for youth in between the ages of 10 and 21. It attempts to do this by limiting adult supervision and allowing the youth, with personal experience, to run the house themselves.
Along with Malloy there are usually three youth educators on staff at all times. Jeremiah 17, who goes by the name Pringles, was one of the educators on staff.
“I am actually a homeless youth myself,” said Pringles, when asked how he got involved in the Raven Project.
Pringles has been a youth educator at the Raven Project for 10 months. He works in helping others like himself find work by creating resumes and searching for jobs on the internet.
“This makes a difference in our community,” said Pringles. “So it would be helpful for other people to get a job there and help them.”
Another youth educator, Stephanie 20, also started at the Raven Project under similar circumstances.
“I actually live in my van myself,” said Stephanie, who did not want to give her last name. “When I moved over here I heard that they give out free showers and that I could do my laundry.”
Stephanie, unlike Pringles, is also educated in topics such as safe sex and finding youth help for certain types of drug use.
“If someone wants to come talk to me confidentially or in private then I am prepared to do that,” said Stephanie.
She also has had training in deferring crisis and can provide “any kind of help that someone on the street might need.”
The Raven is available for all young people in need of services such as find a good meal, a place to take a shower, find some clean clothes and other supplies. The point of the Raven is to be a place for young people to turn to and not feel judged or out of place.
“We are not here to judge or change the behavior of the people we work with, we are here to make sure that they are informed and provided for,” said Malloy.
By Lauren Voigtlander