Transitional Living Program apartments of Central Texas Youth Program are seen recently in Killeen.

Every dollar counts.

For instance, a $15 contribution to the Central Texas Youth Services Bureau Project SOS (Street Outreach for Survival) gets a homeless youth a backpack filled with survival items.

Buying a single hot dog from the Project FUTURE hot dog cart gives youths employment experience, while boosting their confidence.

“So many people have no idea how far their money goes when combined with other money,” said Keith Wallace, executive director of Central Texas Youth Services Bureau Inc. “We can leverage their contributions to apply for federal grants.”

The Central Texas Youth Services Bureau also is funded by contributions from the United Way.

The Greater Fort Hood Area chapter provided $11,000 this year while the United Way of Central Texas in Temple contributed $38,000.

Five of the main bureau services are in Killeen but there are none in Temple.

A main reason for the difference is the Killeen economy is not as steady because of military deployment.

While less than 1 percent of its annual funding comes from the area, the money is necessary as it serves as matching funds to apply for larger matching grants.

“We can use $20,000 in local contributions to draw down $200,000 in grants,” Wallace said.

With an annual budget of $1 million, which includes in-kind contributions and volunteer and intern hours, the bureau provides much-needed services such as Option House Emergency Shelter, a 15-bed facility for homeless youths ages 3 to 17.

“The shelter gives them a home life atmosphere with activities like bowling and free clothing they don’t normally have,” said Rose Amian, shelter director.

Another program, SafePlace has more than 350 neighborhood-based sites that offer immediate protection.

Pregnant and parenting teens can stay for up to 18 months at the organization’s Maternity Group Home in Waco.

Homeless adults ages 16 to 21 can live up to 18 months in one of the seven apartments provided by the Transitional Living Program in Killeen.

“We give them anything they need to live, from groceries to work clothes, and help stabilize their lives,” said Karen Willis, the program’s director.

The bureau doesn’t use a call center.

Trained staff and volunteers answer every call 24/7, and the bureau never charges for services.

“Our dedicated staff will pick up a kid from beneath a bridge at midnight when we get a call for help,” Wallace said.

Finding ways to pay for the services is an ongoing challenge, which makes the bureau appreciative of the people who support the United Way, Wallace said.

“Without their continued monetary support, we would not be able to draw down large federal grants to serve abused kids and homeless youth.”

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