VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Seton Youth Shelters is an organization in Virginia Beach that protects trafficked children and gives shelter to runaways.
Recently, it received a pretty big blow during an already difficult time.
Like many nonprofits, Seton Youth Shelters is already struggling because of coronavirus forcing it to cancel big fundraising events,. But just recently, it received a letter from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, terminating the lease on the home Seton Youth Shelters uses to house boys in need.
“It’s a big, huge shock and change for us, and we’ve just got to figure out how to keep our doors open for the boys in our community who are the most vulnerable and need us so much, especially at this time,” said Jennifer Sieracki, executive director of Seton Youth Shelters.
Sieracki says Seton was contacted by the director of real estate for the diocese about the need to renew the lease for its boys house. They have been in that location for 35 years.
“We were able to reach an agreement which was signed and executed by the bishop, and several weeks later, the church where the boys house actually is located itself, wanted to look at another lease with some different terms,” Sieracki said,
Seton came up with a proposal for another lease and submitted the proposal and, according to Sieracki, “unfortunately [the] response was that the lease would be terminated at this point.”
It’s a huge concern for those who work at Seton Youth Shelters.
“We have seen in the last three or four years an increase in homeless youth and an increase in trafficked youth. You know it’s right here in Hampton Roads. It’s right here across our community, and we have to be here to shelter them, to counsel them, to help them through the crisis that they are experiencing when they come to us and also the help them on that next step. Our goal is to always reunite families whenever possible, and that takes work and commitment and it takes working with the youth and their families and those who were caring for them before they came to us. So, they need us and we need to be here,” Sieracki said.
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond released the following statement to WAVY.com about terminating Seton Youth Shelters’ lease:
“Since 1984, Seton Youth Shelters, a separate 501(c)(3) organization, has rented the former
rectory (building) located on the property of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Virginia Beach.
On April 8, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond notified the group it would not renew the lease agreement effective December 31, 2020. Instead of the 90 day-notice in accordance with the terms of the agreement, the diocese has provided more than seven months’ notice to assist Seton Youth Shelters with as much time as possible in order for the organization to relocate its program to another location.
The diocese appreciates the services Seton Youth Shelters offers to vulnerable youth. We wish them continued success in their work.”
Now that the diocese terminated the lease, Seton only has until Dec. 31 to find a new home and get it ready for the boys to move in.
“So, we have to ask the community to please, talk amongst yourselves, and see if there is somebody out there who may be able to help us as we search for … a way to find a new home for the boys that we serve each year in our shelter,” she said.
When Seton Youth Shelters opened in 1985, Jennifer said they made a commitment to children that the organization would be there for them 24/7, year-round, and she vows to do all she can to not break that promise.
“It is scary not knowing where the next dollar is going to come from, so it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re determined to figure a way forward with this,” Sieracki said.
If you can help Seton Youth Shelters find a new home in the Virginia Beach area for boys in need, call or email Jennifer Sieracki right away. Her phone is 757-963-5795 extension 105. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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