If You Could Save Just One empowers youth and their families to write their own stories. We provide activities and resources that assist youth and their parents in the Hillyard neighborhood and surrounding Spokane areas to create a supportive environment where youth are encouraged to explore their own path to success.
We engage youth in exciting kinetic learning opportunities that don’t feel like school. By building their math, science, technology, and creative skills and interests, we are providing a bridge that builds educational and vocational opportunities by increasing their interests and options for their career paths.
Just One’s vision statement is what we see for the future and the goal we want to reach through our work in Spokane. Here is what we envision:
- People feel connected to each other, resources, and purpose, and this connection helps break down barriers
- Youth who are most impacted are welcome and served
- Institutions are more aware of the needs of youth and families
- People feel safe to ask questions, explore, and be vulnerable
- People increase their protective factors
- Families know how to access the resources they need
- Youth understand that they have value and purpose, even if they are at-risk
- Youth and families open up to get help when they need it
Research has proven that engagement in positive activities and caring relationships with adults helps youth build resiliency and create a path to success. That is what we do here at Just One. We engage youth in a variety of activities that are led by staff and volunteers who are positive role models and mentors; modeling healthy relationships and getting to know kids at a deeper level. We strive to create a safe environment where youth can connect, learn to express themselves in healthy ways and form supportive and uplifting relationships with their peers in a safe environment.
Just One’s founder, Natalia Gutierrez, was thrown off when realizing her son was categorized as “at-risk” when he was 13 years old. He was getting into fights, facing school suspensions, and diagnosed with ADHD. Natalia was told kids like him were only going to turn into street kids.
She went into a navigating mode to find him help.
It wasn’t easy finding community programs tailored to “at-risk youth.” Resources were a process to navigate when she was in need, and now kids with suspension or legal records could not join many of them.
After fighting as hard as she could to keep him safe and in school, her son disappeared. As far as she knew, he was being drug trafficked and brought to different cities. Because Natalia knows firsthand how few programs there are for “at-risk youth” and parents, she started If You Could Save Just One, providing resources to all kids whether or not they have suspensions or are on probation.
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No Parent Is Alone
While her son was gone, Natalia read nonstop to learn more about youth who go missing, to try to navigate where she went wrong.
She learned that 800,000 kids go missing every year in the United States. That’s about 2,000 kids every day. “If kids disappear every single day, it’s not just my kid,” Natalia thought. “It’s not because I am a bad parent.” She learned that Spokane’s resources for kids’ mental health, depression, suicide, and special needs were decreasing vs. the resources for students with financial advantages. While youth with crimes & suicide rates were increasing. She knew from her own experiences how hard it is to find help even when you know your kid is in trouble. What were parents’ options?
Natalia took all that she had learned and her experiences of frustration and used them to start If You Could Save Just One. Just One wants to make sure that other kids can find the caring and support they need to feel safe and connected and that other parents can find resources, have support in navigating community programs, and get help for their at-risk kids, before it is too late.
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Just One In the Media
Just One is honored when others share our story and our work. Thank you for helping us in our work with Spokane youth.
- A new light: Hillyard nonprofit If You Could Save Just One assists struggling kids and families, Spokesman Review, 22 August 2020
Your Donation Makes a World of Difference
All these youth face risk factors and instability in their lives or homes, and Just One intervenes to build connection and relationships, giving them activities, friendships, and community that builds stability and resilience.