FULTON, NY – When the planning committee for Oswego County Opportunities’ “Save our Shelter” S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun was searching for someone to serve as honorary chairperson of the event the choice was clear.
With the event serving as a fundraiser for its Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter committee members reached out to one of the most ardent supporters of youth in Oswego County – Kathy Fenlon.
Now retired, after serving 25 years as the director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Fenlon was happy to accept the invitation.
The idea of being part of an event that will benefit OCO’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter truly resonated with her as she played an important role in establishing the shelter.
“When I was at the Youth Bureau, OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier and I realized there was a need for a runaway and homeless youth shelter. Homelessness in Oswego County is not as visible as it is in larger cities. You don’t see youth living on the street, but I did hear about it from other agencies and the schools, and with OCO being on the front line of delivering services Diane was well aware of the problem,” explained Fenlon.
“Following an almost two-year search we were able to procure state and matching county funding that provided us the opportunity to offer emergency services to youth and their families. Initially this was through host homes, with the goal being to get young people back with family or a safe living environment. Once that was done Diane and I wrote a plan and aggressively looked for additional state and local match money to establish a shelter.” said Fenlon.
Part of OCO’s Youth Emergency Services (YES!) program, OCO’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter was established in 2015.
It provides temporary shelter for youth as OCO staff work with them to find a more permanent living environment.
Most youth average a 30 day stay at the shelter.
With OCO no longer receiving federal funding for the shelter, the “Save Our Shelter” S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun will serve as a fundraiser to help support the Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter.
“The YES! Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter provides youth with a safe place to stay when all other options have been exhausted,” said Shelter Manager Jill Fratangelo. “Without the Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter youth would be left wondering ‘where am I sleeping tonight’ and that’s not something someone age 16-20 should have to worry about. The YES! Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter provides youth with all of their basic needs and the support necessary to overcome the challenges they are facing.”
OCO’s S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun bowling tournament and fundraiser will be held April 29 at Lakeview Lanes, 723 W. Broadway beginning at noon.
Proceeds from the S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun will benefit OCO’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter.
With Oswego County having more than double the state average for children and youth suffering abuse and maltreatment OCO’s youth shelter may be the only place to turn to for help.
In 2016, 1,538 young people identified the need for safe, stable and permanent housing, during their initial contact or intake with OCO.
“I’m pleased that that OCO’s “Save Our Shelter” S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun is supporting a cause that is so dear to me,” said Fenlon. “My work with youth is a lifetime commitment. It wasn’t just a career that ended. I still find myself speaking youth development talk with people. Since my retirement I still continue to serve as a board member for some non-profits. And while my interest is more broadly to the community, my special interest is young people and what we can do as a community to support young people’s programs. That passion will never go away!”
OCO’s S.O.S. Bowl-A-Fun promises to be an afternoon of fun, in addition to the bowling there will be a variety of activities, live entertainment, prize drawings and more.
There will be one flight of bowling beginning at approximately 12:15 p.m.
Registration is $500 per team.
Space for teams is limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
Team registration is now open and those interested may do so online at www.oco.org.
Sponsorship and corporate team opportunities are also available.
For more information visit www.oco.org or contact OCO Development Coordinator Margaret Barclay at 315-598-4717 ext. 1082 or [email protected]
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.
A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 100 separate locations.
For more information, visit www.oco.org.