Oasis Daylight Center & Oasis Teen Shelter
When asking for help is difficult, having a steadfast haven for teenagers to visit can be life-changing. “Every day at Oasis is supportive and affirming,” said Katie Lohman, the director of Oasis Daylight Center & Oasis Teen Shelter.
Located in an unassuming home on a quiet Mount Vernon street, the Skagit Valley Family YMCA-operated house consists of two facilities: an after-school center called Oasis Daylight Center, and a short-term emergency shelter called Oasis Teen Shelter. Operating since 1997, Oasis serves youths aged 13 to 17 and can shelter up to eight kids a night for up to 21 days each. Lohman oversees both programs. A marketing major, she found herself drawn to community-based work. This past September, she took on the fulltime role of Oasis’s director, where she’s excited to tackle everything she enjoys: marketing, non-profit work, direct service, and advocacy.
Fourteen experienced staff members ensure the visiting teens feel supported. Although their credentials vary, each of the staff members has previously worked with youths, and/or with at-risk populations. They’ve taken the initiative to stay on top of innovative counseling techniques and educate themselves on LGBTQ issues that directly affect teenagers.
So what exactly happens here? Oasis Daylight Center is open in the afternoons and on the weekends. Staffers conduct organized discussion groups, have art classes, and hold focused workshops that spark creativity. There are art supplies, a computer lab, and a small recording studio for teens to work and utilize their creative outlets. It’s meant to be a safe space to teens to hang out in and socialize.
For a teen seeking emergency shelter, a rear door to the house goes directly into the Oasis Teen Shelter. Upon entrance, safety and stabilization are paramount. A staff member checks over the teen and offers a meal, shower, or a seat to take a breath. Within 24 hours the teen will meet with a case manager who develops an action plan. Oasis will also check in with outside groups such as Washington State Patrol’s missing children agency. Oasis will contact a parent or guardian for consent to allow the teen to stay at the shelter, unless there is evidence of abuse or neglect, in which case they notify Child Protective Services.
Oasis’s priorities when helping troubled teens is reconciliation with the family, then emphasizing education. Lohman said staff strongly encourages teens to be in an educational program. If regular public school isn’t an option, they’ll help enroll the teen in an online program, a GED program, or will help find trade classes that fit.
For long-term mental health, Oasis offers resources such as Teen Talk, along with focused workshops, and when they aren’t equipped adequately, the teen is referred to other counseling agencies. Local counseling groups work together to help provide the best support network for troubled youths. The Oasis Daylight Center and Teen Shelter lives up to its name, providing all youths with a sanctuary, whether they are troubled or just looking for a safe space to socialize. The work they do is indispensable.
125 N. 5th St., Mount Vernon
360.419.9058 | skagitymca.org