Willow Tinsman attends Mt. Shasta High School as a 14-year-old 9th grader in Mt. Shasta, CA. In her spare time she enjoys photography, reading, writing, drawing, listening to music, and trying out random crafts. She would like to travel around the world and compose a poem about each location that she visits along the way. She dreams of benefitting the world as a lawyer, therapist, or author.

This letter was written by a Siskiyou County high school student as part of the Siskiyou Writes! camp. Students identified a community issue or concern of interest to them, researched the issue, and composed a polished piece that proposes action of some kind.

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by the sight of someone sitting on the side of a road holding a cardboard sign? Perhaps not, as many people tend to overlook the homeless. They’ve become invisible, and I will not succumb to that standard. For those who want help, and are overlooked, I propose a resource hub. A place where homeless can go to get mental health support, job placement services, access to rehab, and food.

Firstly, homelessness is a problem almost everywhere in Siskiyou County, yet there’s a lack of homeless navigation hubs throughout it. The focus is mostly on Yreka because of its larger population. I’m hoping to draw attention to small towns like Mount Shasta. We have the same problem as Yreka but on a smaller scale. There are four service centers that each handle a different aspect of helping the homeless in Yreka, yet there are none in Mount Shasta.

Additionally, having a resource hub would allow the homeless to access the services that they need in one place. Instead of each support center being spread out, they would be condensed into one place. Those in need would be presented with all of the services available to them rather than possibly missing out on an opportunity because of the distance between resources. This would also eliminate the problem of transportation to different destinations because the services would all be in one spot.

Having a hub for services and resources could greatly benefit those who wish to get off the streets as well. By providing rehab, job opportunities, and mental health services we could potentially lift these people out of homelessness, if that is their wish. This could reduce the homeless population and in turn alleviate the problem of litter around homeless camps as well as lower the number of camps themselves. It would also lessen the cost of cleaning up after the homeless. Overall, this could benefit the community of Mount Shasta.

However, even given the benefits, several counter arguments can be anticipated in the subject of a navigation hub. One such argument is on the matter of transportation to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Yreka. To fix this problem, the city could rent a bus or have police officers transport each individual. Yet another issue is the large matter of funding. We would most likely need a government grant, but there are other options as well. A good starting point could be a Go-Fund-Me, where members from around the world raise money for different tasks and causes. There’s also the option of putting fundraising jars in businesses around town. There are going to be problems, but we can overcome them if we truly put our minds to the task.

Clearly, Mount Shasta should have a resource center where the homeless can get on a path to a different lifestyle. Our town is overlooked and the focus is centered on Yreka's population of 7,600. The benefits of having the services condensed in one place are clear, and our community’s homeless people would only need to travel to one place rather than many in order to get their needs met. The resource hub could get the disadvantaged back on their feet and into a more stable situation. There may be roadblocks to our destination but we can, and will, overcome them. In a community as unique and full of compassionate people as Mount Shasta, I firmly believe that together, we can better support the most struggling among us.