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Youth shelter gets some neighborly assistance

Every year managers from the Hyatt Regency visit the nonprofit facility to lend a hand.

May 30, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Residents at the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter play instruments in the recreation room on Tuesday.
Residents at the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter play… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

It has become a yearly tradition for Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach managers to help the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter spruce up before its anniversary.

This is year will be no exception as the shelter prepares to celebrate its seventh year of helping Huntington Beach youths on June 12.

"They're coming on June 6 and painting some rooms that haven't been painted since we opened the doors," said Elsa Greenfield, program director at the shelter.

The city-owned but nonprofit-operated house has 12 beds for homeless and runaway children, providing a haven for them during their times of greatest need.

The shelter, run by the nonprofit Community Service Programs, replaced a program for troubled youths that was shut down in 2005 because of funding issues, said Greenfield.

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Since reopening its doors in July 2006, the single-story home behind the Huntington Beach Library on Talbert Avenue has helped 725 children.

Greenfield said that when the shelter reopened, the first six months were spent just fixing it up. She said the first people to come help were the managers at the Hyatt, and they have supported them ever since by painting and making repairs.

"The best part of it is giving back to the community and giving back to the youth of the community and making Huntington Beach a better place for the future," Hyatt general manager Paul Devitt said. "It's key in the Hyatt's mission to give back to the local community. The community has been so good to us, and having a partner like [Greenfield] and the shelter really helps us make a difference."

Some of the children who come to the youth shelter deal with issues of anger, depression, physical abuse, drug use and sometimes homelessness, Greenfield said.

The children typically go through a one-month program, complete with schooling and chores that enable them to learn life lessons, she said.

Therapy is also offered.

Sometimes a child will need to stay at the shelter longer than a month. But no matter the length of the residency, the program's goal is to reunite the children with their families, Greenfield said.

"We realize that we don't have a magic wand and that in a month they're fixed," she said. "A lot of these problems have taken a long time to develop, so we allow them to keep coming back for sessions and therapy as long as it's needed."

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