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In November, two national organizations are working to draw public awareness to the challenges faced by runaway and homeless youth; the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has designated November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month (NHYAM), and the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) has recognized November as National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM).

Since 1989, Youth Outreach (YO!) has worked with this population locally, meeting Oahu’s runaways, homeless, and street-identified youth, and young adults up to the age of 22 on the streets, or in accessible, friendly environments to engage those that other programs may not reach. YO!, a collaboration between Waikiki Health and Hale Kipa, serves as a critical resource and “safe place or zone” for this at-risk population.

YO!’s sensitive approach is to first establish relationships and build trust with youth and young adults by effectively and compassionately engaging different ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and cultures in a respectful manner. 

YO!’s services include case management, health, and medical services on a referral or walk-in basis, all designed to help these at-risk youth and young adults transition from the streets to a more stable environment. 

Among YO!’s services are meals served at drop-in locations. Local restaurants traditionally donated most of these meals, but with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in restaurant closures, YO! has been responsible for more of the meal preparation. 

In addition to preparing and distributing meals, YO!’s trustworthy staff provides showers, clothing, laundry facilities, crisis intervention, information and referral, case management, advocacy, independent living skills training, safety workshops, education support, and employment assistance.