In the 10 years that Larry Lovelett has helped homeless youth, he hasn’t met a single kid who admits to being homeless. “None of them are homeless,” he says. “Even if they’re in the desert living in a box, they’re not homeless. They’re just looking for their next place to stay,” he says.
That’s what makes his job as the homeless youth transition specialist for the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) so challenging. And that’s why NPHY is creative in its outreach, with efforts like Feel Good Fridays, which places volunteers at locations throughout the Valley every Friday to distribute toiletries, homemade baked goods, lemonade and literature about NPHY’s services.
Every Friday at 5 p.m., the group of volunteers is stationed at the corner of Reno Avenue and Maryland Parkway. In addition, the first Friday of each month, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., they’re at the corner of East Lake Mead Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, and the fourth Friday of each month, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., they’re at the intersection of Tenaya Way and Lake Mead Boulevard.
The Clark County School District identified 5,485 students as homeless during the 2010-11 school year. The primary goal of NPHY, says Lovelett, is to reach out to those kids and others, whether they’re homeless, at-risk or in an abusive situation, and let them know what services NPHY provides. The services include the William Fry Drop-in Center (4981 Shirley St.), a mobile crisis intervention team that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (866-827-3723), and Safe Place locations where youth can seek immediate shelter and help at Terrible Herbst locations and RTC buses across the Valley.
Of course, before NPHY representatives can help anyone, they have to identify the problem. “For a 16-, 17-year-old kid to reach out and say ‘I’m homeless. Can you help me?’ is really a hard thing for him to do,” Lovelett says.