ROCHESTER - Wentworth-Douglass Hospital recently awarded a $25,000 community benefit grant to Waypoint to assist in the continued operation of the Drop-In Center in Rochester, which allows homeless youth in the Seacoast region to access various services.
Homelessness is a growing problem in the communities that Wentworth-Douglass serves and can have a wide-range of negative health outcomes, a statement from Wentworth Douglass noted on Tuesday.
"Since opening in 2022, we have seen the impact of this important program on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable youth and young adults experiencing homelessness within our community, said Meaghan Heusler, Wentworth-Douglass community benefits manager. "We are pleased to support Waypoint as they continue to grow this program, and we feel that the ongoing development of these services is well aligned with needs identified in our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment."
Waypoint seeks to limit the amount of time that youth remain homeless by providing intervention and prevention. The Rochester Drop-In Center provides a safe, judgment free place for youth to access basic needs while building trusting relationships with staff. Youth at the center have access to food, clothing, technology, educational resources, and connections to multiple supportive services.
"We are connecting with so many more youth struggling with homelessness in the community these days. The Drop-in Center has allowed us to expand and deepen our support of youth. There are many hurdles to overcome but when we can connect with youth and help them exit homelessness, we can prevent many long-term consequences to their health and well-being. And we have many successes - which would not be possible without support from partners like Wentworth-Douglass," said Mandy Lancaster, senior program manager of youth services at Waypoint.
The Rochester Drop-In Center is located at 3 Wallace Street and served 140 youth in their first year of operation.
In addition to the Drop-in Center, Waypoint provides street outreach in areas youth are known to congregate and provides crisis response. Services are designed to assist youth in leaving the streets, making healthy choices, and building trusting relationships.
Waypoint provides street-based outreach in Rochester, Dover, Portsmouth, Exeter, and Hampton - the five most populated communities in the service area and areas which are known to have larger numbers of youth experiencing homelessness. In the remaining greater Seacoast area, Waypoint provide services via a Street Outreach Van, in areas youth are known to congregate, such as train stations and parks, allowing for outreach in the less-populated communities.
Wentworth-Douglass conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years to identify where the hospital should focus its programs and services to improve the overall health of the individuals and families it serves. The funds donated are approved by the hospital's Community Benefit Funding Disbursement Committee and are not raised through any public or private donations.