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Free fair offers OKC homeless youth resources

Jamie Caves, Executive Director of Sisu Youth Services, standing, talks with a couple youth at Nappy Roots Books, as part of their free youth resource fairs this week, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] 
 [Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman]
Jamie Caves, Executive Director of Sisu Youth Services, standing, talks with a couple youth at Nappy Roots Books, as part of their free youth resource fairs this week, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] [Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman]

Sisu Youth Services was at Nappy Roots Books, 3705 Springlake Drive, on Wednesday as part of a special campaign to support and count homeless youth with survival resources today and tomorrow.

Sisu Executive Director Jamie Caves said last year’s snapshot of the local homeless population revealed a disturbing number of people between 14 and 24 years old.

“Last year we had a Point in Time count, which is a one-day snapshot of the homeless population Oklahoma City does each year, and we found 90 unaccompanied youth on that one night sleeping in a place not meant for habitation.”

With this year’s Point in Time count canceled by COVID-19, Caves said it was important to attempt some kind of accounting for at-risk youth since Oklahoma City only has about 30 beds exclusively for that age group.

“So we know that the problem far outweighs the resources and that’s why these events are so important so that we can make sure young people are getting connected to the support that they need,” Caves said.

Sponsored by the Inasmuch Foundation, Sisu’s usual free resource fair, a partnership with the Homeless Youth Alliance, Mental Health Association of Oklahoma and NorthCare, is hosted at its Youth Day Center. COVID-19 forced adjustments.

“Instead of having one big event for a lot of people we’re trying to spread out across town in different locations so that we can have several smaller events and still at-risk youth the services and support they need,” Caves said.

Those in need of help have three options to visit between 3 and 6 p.m. Friday. They are Sisu Youth Services, 3131 N Pennsylvania Ave.; Nappy Roots Books, 3705 Springlake Drive; We The People’s Culture Hub, 301 SW 23.

Sisu staff and other service providers will be available to help young adults with housing applications, mental health appointments, education questions, as well as gift cards, bus passes, hot meals, clothing, toiletries and food pantry items.

Caves said anyone who needs a ride to the fair can get one by calling 405-459-7478

Sisu, which is a rough Finnish translation indicating determination, perseverance and bravery, began in 2010 as an informal social-media campaign to collect and share emergency resources for at-risk youth. It became an official nonprofit in 2013 and opened The Sisu Youth Day Center, 3131 N Pennsylvania Ave., in 2014.

The center has 16 emergency beds for youths and consistently operates at capacity with a waitlist of more than 15. It offers resources daily from 4 to 6 p.m. To support its mission, go to https://www.sisuyouth.org/.

Related Photos
<strong>Nappy Roots Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City, joined Sisu Youth Services on Wednesday to provide unsheltered youth food and resources. [Addison Kliewer]</strong>

Nappy Roots Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City, joined Sisu Youth Services on Wednesday to provide unsheltered youth food and resources. [Addison Kliewer]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a1bce150e78563ad014cfbffdc029d0a.jpg" alt="Photo - Nappy Roots Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City, joined Sisu Youth Services on Wednesday to provide unsheltered youth food and resources. [Addison Kliewer] " title=" Nappy Roots Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City, joined Sisu Youth Services on Wednesday to provide unsheltered youth food and resources. [Addison Kliewer] "><figcaption> Nappy Roots Books, a Black-owned bookstore in Oklahoma City, joined Sisu Youth Services on Wednesday to provide unsheltered youth food and resources. [Addison Kliewer] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-15c339576105a6bae43f91dc463df776.jpg" alt="Photo - Jamie Caves, Executive Director of Sisu Youth Services, standing, talks with a couple youth at Nappy Roots Books, as part of their free youth resource fairs this week, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] [Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] " title=" Jamie Caves, Executive Director of Sisu Youth Services, standing, talks with a couple youth at Nappy Roots Books, as part of their free youth resource fairs this week, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] [Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Jamie Caves, Executive Director of Sisu Youth Services, standing, talks with a couple youth at Nappy Roots Books, as part of their free youth resource fairs this week, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman] [Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
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