Spokane’s Northeast Youth Center provides sanctuary for kids from low-income families

Inside the modest building on Market Street in Hillyard is a home away from home for more than 100 elementary-aged children. It is a place where, in one of the state’s poorest zip codes, they can feel safe, loved, and accepted.

Northeast Youth Center is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and for 90 percent of the children who come from single-parent families, the Youth Center is their village.

“Kids are dropped off as early as 6:00 a.m., we feed them breakfast to make sure they’re ready to go to school, if they need their hair done, last-minute homework help, getting them packed and ready to go,” said Director Kate Green. “We’re the last ones to say good-bye to them when we’re dropping them off at school and we’re the first ones after school to pick them up, say ‘how was your day?’ do the whole thing you would do as parents.”

When the kids return to the Center after school, they’re fed again. If they need help with their homework, local college students are there to serve as tutors and mentors. The children go on field trips, play video games, and are given a space to just be their active selves.

The Youth Center staff say they’re fully aware of the vital resource they’re providing these low-income families — some, just a paycheck away from becoming homeless, as they work to lift themselves out of their circumstances to build a better life.

“We want their lives to be changed, we want them to remember that the Northeast Youth Center made a difference in their lives,” said Board Member Doris Campoverde. “Because they’re going to come back and make changes in their own community. They will never leave that… they want to change their own community. ”

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