Tom in the News

Youth shelter coming to Graham area
The Dispatch, October 31, 2007

by Bruce Smith

Graham House, a residence for homeless young men in Graham, is getting a sister facility in Spanaway, the Youth Resources Board announced this week at a fundraiser in Parkland. The Youth Resources Board is a private, non-profit organization that focuses on the needs of youth in Bethel and Franklin Pierce school districts. The YRB operates the five-bed Graham House in conjunction with the Bethel School District.

The new Youth Resources Center, which will have a much greater variety of services than the Graham House, is located at 215 167th St. in Spanaway, just off Pacific Ave. Preliminary construction and site preparation began this summer, and completion of the $1 million site is expected by June 2008, according to Helen Myrick, a member of the Youth Resources Board. Unique to the Spanaway house will be an eight bed domiciliary for homeless women, aged 18-21, making this the only facility of its kind in south Pierce County.

In addition, there will be a drop-in center for teens and young adults serving three hot meals a day, a kitchen, laundry and a study room. Over 300 students currently enrolled in Franklin Pierce and Bethel school districts have no permanent address, said Deborah Cozzetti, Executive Director of the Youth Resources Board. In addition, DSHS estimates that at least 100 youth in Pierce County have no parental supervision of any kind.

The Spanaway Center will also partner with social and health agencies, providing medical care, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol interventions and job training. The Center will also serve as a mail-drop so that young adults in transition and looking for their first job will have an address and phone number to give prospective employers.

"We've got to bring these kids up," said Gary Yazwa, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound. "For whatever reasons, their families have abandoned them, so this fundraiser is not about charity, it's about changing lives. This building will be a legacy - it will change kids' lives forever."

"This center will actually do something about these kids before we lose them," said State Representative Tom Campbell. "Every dollar we spend on this center is one less dollar we'll have to spend on a prison cell." Campbell announced that he and State Senator Marilyn Rasmussen had gathered over $400,000 in state funds for the construction of the center, and will be seeking more next session.

Myrick told the gathering that Youth Resources had received $650,000 of the necessary funds, leaving over $300,000 still to be raised.

For those wishing to contribute to this project, or to learn more about the Youth Resources Board and its programs, contact them at 253-209-5216 or


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