VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s a big week for a Virginia Beach youth shelter.
The Seton Youth Shelters lost its lease last year and had to find a new home in the middle of the pandemic. The community stepped up in a big way to help.
For the folks who manage Seton Youth Shelters, this building has become the culmination of a long uncertain journey. This week, Seton moved its boy residents into a temporary home as part of the relocation.
In April of last year, the catholic diocese of Richmond announced it would not renew its lease agreement with the shelter.
“When we lost the lease that we held for almost 38 years, in the middle of COVID and then many of our donors were unable to support us last year. We really didn’t know if we would be able to continue operations,” said Jennifer Sieracki, CEO of Seton Youth Shelters.
Through the support of the community, they were able to relocate to the planned new location: a former church in Virginia Beach — a real blessing for those facing tough times.
“Seton Youth Shelters is here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for children in our area,” said Sieracki.
Its residents are ages 4 through the age of 18 for its three programs. The shelter opened its doors in 1985 and made the promise they would never charge a fee to children and their families.
“Because the community supports us, we’ve been able to keep that promise for almost four decades. So, we are here for the most vulnerable youth who need us whenever they need us free of charge,” said Sieracki.
While transforming the former church into a youth center has been a challenge, this is just the first step.
“As the project goes on, we’re really in phase 1 with our interim boys’ house here. As the project goes on we plan to build a new boys’ house, girls’ house, and education admin center. And this building will eventually be demolished to make room for those other buildings that will be permanent structures on the property,” Sieracki said.
When it’s all said and done, Seton Youth Shelters will have buildings made specifically for the services they provide, but they still need your help.
“We’re not quite there yet, we still have some funds to raise to complete this project, and all we do hope is that there may be some folks out there in the community who are still able to help us get to our goal,” Sieracki said.