Community Leaders Sleep Outdoors to Bring Awareness

Community leaders were challenged to sleep outdoors in order to raise awareness for youth homelessness.

Capital City Youth Services serves homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth through prevention and intervention services. On Thursday, the organization held their first ever sleep out while raising funds to support the CCYS mission.

More than 30 leaders in the community supported the event by discussing the homeless youth population and what they can do to help.

Jess Tharpe, outreach and development director at CCYS said the organization was inspired to do the sleep out by a program in New Orleans.

"We decided to borrow it and this is our first year, we've got just over 30 people sleeping out and we've raised $21,000 so far," Tharpe said.

Last year, Leon County Schools reported nearly 800 students experiencing homelessness, not including the young people that are not enrolled in school.

Tallahassee City Commissioner John Dailey, who served as the emcee for the event said, "I was surprised to learn that there are nearly 800 youths in our community experiencing homelessness on a regular basis and that's an issue that needs to be addressed".

The sleep out provided coffee and light snacks as well as boxes to sleep in for security.

Members sleeping out were asked to spend the night until 6 a.m. when the event came to an end.

"It's important not to forget that there are youths in our community experiencing what we are experiencing tonight that do it every night," John Dailey.

During the event, members participated in different sessions which included youth homelessness statistics and what CCYS provides.

Jackie Pons, superintendent of schools in Leon County said that he came out to bring awareness to the community.

"We want to make sure the community understands what's going on because our community is so supportive of any Initiative," Pons said. "We have so many organizations that help with this in our community".

The organization is expecting this sleep out to be the first of many.