Homeless Children Program Extends Through All Weekdays

Dec 13, 2016

A program for homeless children across Eugene is expanding from one to five days.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on St. Vincent de Paul’s “First Place Kids”.  

Eileen Chanti, Director of the First Place Kids program at Eugene's St. Vincent de Paul location on Pearl Road.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

In a small classroom, a musician leads a group of toddlers and college volunteers in a sing-along.   It’s part of a broader effort to develop the children’s social, emotional, and creative well-being.  

Musician Rich Glauber with children at First Place Kids.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Eileen Chanti is Director of First Place Kids.  She says homeless families need support for when things are tough.

“When a family comes to take a shower, to look for a job, to get help with housing, to use our kitchen, their kids can be here in a safe, child-centered space.”

Among those catching the announcement of the expanded service was outgoing Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy…who’s tackled homelessness in the city for much of her tenure. 

“School officials estimate there are nearly 2,000 homeless children in Eugene, Bethel, and Springfield school districts combined…that’s a lot of children without a home.” 

First Place Kids administrators say grant money from groups like the United Way and Jill Heiman Fund through the Oregon Country Fair has helped expand their services…though most of the $62,000 annual operating cost has come from private donors.