One year ago, the people of St. Johns County came together to celebrate the completion and grand opening of Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center. Since then, thanks to the commitment of the community, more than 100 youth have found hope, a safe place off the streets and a bridge to the future.
Port in the Storm provides the only comprehensive services for the homeless unaccompanied youth of St. Johns County. The program is unique in that it serves local youth, males and females, is low-barrier — youth are not court-ordered there — and is presently completely community supported.
Port in the Storm currently serves youth ages 18 to 24. This is the fastest growing population of homeless in Florida and the United States. St. Johns County has the highest instance of successful suicide for this age group in the state.
The program at Port in the Storm includes day drop-in services for all homeless youth and safe overnight shelter for up to 16. Professional trained staff provide programs that are based in positive youth development, which builds on a youth’s strengths and provides support and opportunities that will help them achieve goals and transition to adulthood in a productive, healthy manner.
The young people served at Port in the Storm are often disconnected from their families and other social support. Many have endured traumatic childhood experiences.
In addition to living on the streets, they have survived abusive homes, aged out of foster care or have been victims of human trafficking and exploitation.
One such youth, Crystal, came in last week. She has experienced a lot of pain in her short life and has been selling herself to survive. But now she is safe, away from those who just use her and with people who will provide the hope and direction that she so desperately needs.
Port in the Storm has publicly thanked the community for making youth a priority.
To donate or learn more, go to www.stfrancisshelter.org or call 904-824-8987.
Port in the Storm and St. Francis House are programs of St. Augustine Society Inc. providing comprehensive housing crisis services for homeless youth, adults and families in St. Johns County.