Student receives $110,000 in donations to start youth homeless shelter

A McKay High School Senior has a lot on his plate, but that hasn't slowed him down from working to curb a growing iss...

Posted: Jan 27, 2018 6:24 PM
Updated: Jan 27, 2018 6:24 PM

A McKay High School Senior has a lot on his plate, but that hasn't slowed him down from working to curb a growing issue in his community: youth homelessness.

Raul Marquez, 18, spends his time on the soccer and tennis teams and serving as the student body president for the Salem-Keizer school.

In the last few weeks, he along with other students have been working on a plan to open a youth homeless center, something the city doesn't have.

Marquez says in the 2016-2017 school year Salem-Keizer schools reported that 96 students were living in their car or on the streets. It is a stat that jumped from 71 in the year prior.

According to the recent Point-in-Time homeless study, Marion County has the fifth highest number of homeless students in the state.

"It's really sad to hear this but a young teen about my age passed away here in Salem out on the streets," Marquez said.

He began working with Community Action in Salem to formulate a plan to combat those statistics.

The organization was already working on a program and Marquez says they decided they would raise money to buy a home to turn into a shelter.

"We established that if we could raise the money to purchase a house they would be willing to run the program," Marquez said.

This was all part of a 100-day challenge to address homelessness in the community.

On Tuesday night, Marquez was set to present his idea and goals to board members at United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, to his surprise they offered up a hefty donation.

"When I heard the board members, you know, coming together to say we are willing to put down $100,000 to help start this project. I was amazed," Marquez said.

He adds another person stepped up and offered $10,000 more.

In one swoop, a third of the money they were working to raise was donated.

Marquez says they have a lofty goal and wasn't sure when it would be met. Now with a healthy start, he knows his community will continue to come together to make this happen.

"I can say without a doubt that because of the support we have behind us this initiative it is going to be possible," Marquez said.

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