SAN DIEGO — More than a dozen people are ditching their comfy beds and sleeping outside under the stars Friday night to raise awareness and money for homeless youth with San Diego Youth Services.
The organization’s second annual Street Sleep SD event aims to raise $125,000 to continue the fight against youth homelessness. Last year, during their first event, they raised about $100,000.
“We are not trying to replicate what youth who are living on the streets go through. We have no idea. We could not even begin to understand what that’s like, so we just are really doing this in solidarity,” Walter Philips, CEO of San Diego Youth Services, told FOX 5.
“Anytime I can give back, I’m going to do it and to experience what it’s like is really important because you don’t realize how challenging it is until you experience it yourself,” David Franco, a donor who spent the night outside Friday night said.
Joseph Spence said he was homeless at 14 years old and is one of the thousands of youth the organization has helped.
“San Diego Youth Services gave me a call when I was out there and they said, ‘hey, lets get you out of there,’ so they gave me an opportunity and showed me love that a lot of people could have never showed me,” Spence said. “I have a job, I have a house, I have a car, I have everything that I’ve been wanting thanks to San Diego Youth Services.”
The event happened outside of San Diego Youth Services’ Spring Valley Campus.
“More than 1,800 youth are experiencing homelessness every night in San Diego,” Philips said. “Homelessness is a big problem in our city, and we see youth that are struggling every day.”
San Diego Youth Services aims to end the cycle of youth homelessness by providing resources, stable housing and long-term solutions such as training.
San Diego Youth Services serves about 13,000 youth each year. In their more than 50 years of service, they have helped more than 780,000 youth in San Diego County.
To learn more and support Street Sleep SD, visit streetsleepsd.org.