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Fairbanks Hosts Candlelight Vigil for Youth Homelessness

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[Originally published at Downtown Association of Fairbanks. Republished with permission.]
On November 6, community members will hold a candlelight vigil to raise awareness of homeless and at-risk youth in Fairbanks. “Our candles and signs will show our support and give hope for the many youth currently living on their own,” said Colette Gilmour, a VISTA volunteer with the Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption’s Street Outreach and Advocacy Program (SOAP).
“The event is important because many people don’t realize how many homeless children there actually are in Fairbanks,” said Gilmour. More than 230 runaways were reported in 2012, according to the Fairbanks Youth Advocates (FYA) website. That is a 28 percent increase over 2011.
“Homeless youth are virtually invisible to most of the community, staying under the radar,” says Gilmour. Because of this, they are more vulnerable to the dangers of street living and finding help through existing programs is a greater challenge.
The route for this year’s vigil includes a walk-by of The Door, the new youth shelter under construction on 10thAvenue. The shelter is operated by FYA and will open by year’s end.
FYA currently runs an emergency youth shelter out of 1st Presbyterian Church on 7th Avenue.  More than 150 youth (age 12-21) have taken refuge in the shelter since it opened in December 2012.
The candlelight vigil is an annual event co-sponsored by SOAP and the Covenant House of Alaska. FYA, Access Alaska and Joel’s Place are also taking part in the event.
To find out more about the event, click here.
[Jeremia Schrock is the communications coordinator for the Downtown Association of Fairbanks.]