On June 13, donors and supporters celebrated the Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center’s completed renovation and the opening of 16 shelter beds for unaccompanied homeless youth.

The center, which opened in 2017, serves youth who have no one and nowhere to go. A designated youth program building provides day drop-in services and 16 safe shelter beds. The program combines safe shelter, life skills and positive youth development to help youth overcome challenges and lead them to a successful future.

Former mayor Joe Boles emceed the event, which featured guided tours and an opportunity to learn about the program’s impact on local youth.

Steve Cupolo, CEO/owner of Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, which sponsored the event, spoke about his commitment to the program.

“No matter what your views on homelessness are, these are our kids,” he said. “This is our opportunity to change their lives. There is no better way to impact the future of our community than to help these kids.”

Former educator, Maureen Zygmont and her husband, Frank, spoke of the importance of Port in the Storm to provide youth with the stability and support necessary to grow and develop into successful adults.

In addition to celebrating the renovation completion, the event raised $50,000 to support the programs that benefit unaccompanied homeless youth. Port in the Storm is a 501(c)3 organization funded through donations.

At the end of the last school year, 169 homeless unaccompanied youth were attending St. Johns County Schools. The Youth Street Outreach team of St. Francis House has identified many others who have either dropped out or completed school and are on the streets. Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center is a program of St. Augustine Society, Inc., which serves adults and families at St. Francis House.

For information, visit stfrancisshelter.org or call Karen at 904-824-8987, ext. 4.