VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Seton Youth Shelters.

The Virginia Beach organization protects trafficked children and gives shelter to runaways.

Seton Youth Shelters has confronted two extraordinary threats to its ability to continue operations in 2020. This spring, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the organization’s two major fundraising events and prevented many donors from being able to support Seton’s shelter, outreach, and mentoring programs.

“Within three days in March 2020, Seton lost 25 percent of our operating revenue due to canceled events and shuttered private and retail donors. In the same week, the Catholic Diocese of Virginia ended its 37-year lease for Seton’s Boys’ House,” Sieracki explained.

Since then, they’ve been granted a lease extension while they continue to search for a new boys’ home until the end of August.

The good news is now they’ve got a long-term plan.

“No one could’ve imagined the direst circumstances at the beginning of the year could include something like this happening to us we really are overwhelmed,” said Executive Director of Seton Youth Shelter, Jennifer Sieracki.

Sieracki says they’ve worked with Stan and Brian Holland with Atlantic Bay mortgage over the past few months to find land for their facilities. Now they’ve got a contract on a 3-acre piece of property in central Virginia Beach.

It will allow them to bring their administrative building, shelters, girls’ housing and boys’ housing to the one location.

Right now, they’re all separately leased a little over a mile apart. 

“It’s very centrally located to our families, to the other folks that we work with in the community, so our fingers are crossed,” she stated.

She says as long as everything goes as planned, they project to be in the new location in two years. This means they’ll still need an interim building for their boy’s shelter after next August.

Plus, she says they still have a lot of work to do.

They need to raise another $1.5 million to complete the new campus construction.

“We’re really excited it’s a huge challenge ahead, but with the community’s help we believe we can do this,” said Sieracki.

To donate to Seton Youth Shelters, click here.