Be A Best Friend to Homeless Youth


Be A Best Friend to Homeless Youth raised $21,478 on HandUp!

$21,478 raised of $30,000 Goal
71% Complete
45 Days Left
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Help us raise $30K for food & care for homeless youth & their beloved pets.

About this Campaign

At Homeless Youth Alliance, we work with young people who end up on San Francisco's streets after fleeing abusive homes, traumatic experiences in foster care or juvenile justice systems, and alienating or bigoted environments.

For HYA's staff, helping kids’ pets is the first step in encouraging them to accept help for themselves. Services we offer youth are: healthcare, housing, rehabilitation programs, mental health treatment, and life-saving tools & knowledge to maximize their safety & prevent infectious disease, violence, & overdose. More often than not, a life-changing course of positive change begins very simply, with a young person asking one of our Counselors “Do you guys have food for my dog?”

We are fundraising to be able to provide these vital services to our youth, as well as to fund food supplies for their pets.

Almost half the kids we work with have a dog. Of the approximately 1,000 dogs we see accompany our participants each year, about half are certified as registered service animals. Most are 'rescues,' large breeds that are disproportionately euthanized at shelters but are loyal and constant companions to our participants, who can relate to how it feels to be unwanted and discounted. These pets are often the only link to love, trust, and family that they experience day-to-day.

"Our dogs are the reason we get up in the morning. They keep us out of so much trouble." Susan, the young woman who said this to us, started sleeping on the streets at 18. She has two dogs: a black lab mix she adopted as a stray, and pit mix she and a friend rescued from a neglectful situation. For Susan, it's easier to ask for help for her dogs than it is to ask for anything for herself.

Initially, HYA used to get a supply of dog food free from a local business, but they closed. After that, we were fortunate to get a grant from a private foundation that underwrote our pet food costs for two years. But recently, the grant maker discontinued its pet food program.

When you give to our Campaign, you're helping to keep alive a vitally important resource, one that not only keeps pups happy and healthy, but that paves the way for our Counselors to build long-term, trusting relationships with youth that ultimately lead to stability, recovery, and permanent transition off the streets.

In addition, your donations will provide individual case management sessions with youth, to help them and their beloved animals achieve safety, well-being, and security.

Your funds will underwrite a steady supply of pet food for more than 1,000 homeless kids' dogs annually.

Most importantly, campaign funds will go toward individual case management sessions with kids. In these sessions, our Counselors give youth a hot meal--likely the only one they get all day--and helps them identify and reach their goals. For example, we help youth navigate the logistics of getting housing, getting medical care, mental health care, or substance treatment, getting a legal ID, reconnecting with supportive friends or family, finding a job, and taking countless other steps that lead to healthier, safer lives for themselves and their beloved pets.

Hillary, a 23-year-old LGBT woman we've worked with for years, is a diehard dog-lover and one of HYA's many success stories. Hillary ended up on the streets at 15 with her dog, Pi. "He was the only thing I had in the world," she recounted to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2014, the year HYA helped her get permanent (and dog-friendly!) housing. After years of struggling with heroin use, Hillary used HYA's programs to get in recovery, access mental health care, and get off the street. She even started working as an intern for the Mayor's Office of H.O.P.E., and was also appointed to San Francisco’s Transitional Aged Youth Advisory Board as a Youth Advocate.

A year ago, Hillary was able to move out of the permanent supportive housing facility and rent an apartment on her own. She lives happily with her partner and with her beloved Pi, who's been with her every step of the way. Hillary considers herself Pi's mom, and she considers HYA hers: "I always say Homeless Youth Alliance is my mother," she told the SF Chronicle in 2015.

When you contribute to our Campaign, you're helping make possible more success stories like Hillary's this holiday season: for homeless youth, for their pets, and for the city of St. Francis as a whole.

Redlined: The story of the Homeless Youth Alliance from HYA Media on Vimeo.

108 Supporters
+ 102
Recent Activity
Latest Campaign Update
A HandUp Update from Be A Best Friend to Homeless Youth
January 5, 2017 at 2:48 PM

Our HandUp Campaign has concluded, and we can't thank you enough! 107 wonderful donors raised $21,378 in support of our work with homeless youth and their beloved pets. This amazing show of compassion will help give individual, one-on-one support to so many more youth in 2017, helping them find housing, and be healthier, safer, and more connected to a support system. For so many kids, reaching out through their pets is the entry point to making positive changes happen. Thank you for recognizing that and being so generous.

We'd love to stay in touch and keep you posted on our work and our youth! If you're not already on our mailing list, send a message to to keep connected with HYA's latest updates. You can also find us on social media: we're on Facebook, and our Twitter handle is @homelessyouth.

As you may know, HYA lost our lease in 2013, and for the past 3 years we've done all of our work outdoors: including counseling, therapy sessions, and needle exchange! We've seen firsthand how youth and their pets are suffering without a safe indoor refuge in the Haight Ashbury. That's why we're raising funds for our Capital Campaign to find a permanent location where youth can get life-saving services indoors. We'll be able to host free vet clinics there, too, which will be a huge draw for thousands of youth to come in and build a relationship with us. To learn more and see how you can help, click here:

From all of us at HYA, have a wonderful 2017, and thank you so much!

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Giving Levels

A $20 donation could provide 20 "doggie bags" of dog food for homeless youth's pets, handed out during HYA's street outreach

22 supporters


A $50 donation could cover 5 hot nutritious meals for homeless youth, served during counseling sessions

30 supporters


A $100 donation could cover 5 case management sessions to help youth get housing, healthcare, and other basic needs met

28 supporters


A $1000 donation could cover a month of street outreach, in which we connect with, feed, and engage 850 youth and at least 200 pets.

1 supporter


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