I read a Mail Tribune story a few weeks ago that said (Hearts with a Mission) Medford's new teen homeless shelter is finally open. The story also said they'd had their first visitor. I was so pleased to read this. But I was wondering if any more children have come forward and are getting helped by this shelter. Would you please let me know if this is so?

I read a Mail Tribune story a few weeks ago that said (Hearts with a Mission) Medford's new teen homeless shelter is finally open. The story also said they'd had their first visitor. I was so pleased to read this. But I was wondering if any more children have come forward and are getting helped by this shelter. Would you please let me know if this is so?

— Ann S., Central Point

Kevin Lamson, executive director of Hearts with a Mission, said the county's only youth shelter, located at 521 Edwards St. in west Medford, was housing eight teens Thursday.

Lamson said he vividly remembers the November day in 2006 when he read that there were 1,500 homeless teens in Jackson County. Three years later, because of strong community support, Hearts With A Mission became a fully licensed teen shelter which includes three separate safe quadrants, consisting of nine bedrooms, with a total of 17 beds, he said.

Lamson said he discovered a lot about the needs of homeless youths throughout the three-year process to create the shelter, including an understanding "that the immediate need is so much more severe than I ever imagined."

The newly-remodeled home provides temporary emergency shelter for 72 hours, or longer stays of up to 120 days with written parental consent, for kids ages 10 to 17.

The purpose of Hearts with a Mission is not to duplicate services, but to fill a gap that has been missing in our community, Lamson said. Youths have individual case management and access to services to re-establish family ties or in cases when that is not suitable, access to other appropriate housing, or services.

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