McKay senior receives $110,000 in donations to start Salem youth - KPTV - FOX 12

McKay senior receives $110,000 in donations to start Salem youth homeless shelter

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

A McKay High School Senior has a lot on his plate, but that hasn’t slowed him down from working to curb a growing issue in his community: youth homelessness.

Raul Marquez, 18, spends his time on the soccer and tennis teams and serving as the student body president for the Salem-Keizer school.

In the last few weeks, he along with other students have been working on a plan to open a youth homeless center, something the city doesn’t have.

Marquez says in the 2016-2017 school year Salem-Keizer schools reported that 96 students were living in their car or on the streets. It is a stat that jumped from 71 in the year prior.

According to the recent Point-in-Time homeless study, Marion County has the fifth highest number of homeless students in the state.

“It’s really sad to hear this but a young teen about my age passed away here in Salem out on the streets,” Marquez said.

He began working with Community Action in Salem to formulate a plan to combat those statistics.

The organization was already working on a program and Marquez says they decided they would raise money to buy a home to turn into a shelter.

“We established that if we could raise the money to purchase a house they would be willing to run the program,” Marquez said.

This was all part of a 100-day challenge to address homelessness in the community.

On Tuesday night, Marquez was set to present his idea and goals to board members at United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, to his surprise they offered up a hefty donation.

“When I heard the board members, you know, coming together to say we are willing to put down $100,000 to help start this project. I was amazed,” Marquez said.

He adds another person stepped up and offered $10,000 more.

In one swoop, a third of the money they were working to raise was donated.

Marquez says they have a lofty goal and wasn’t sure when it would be met. Now with a healthy start, he knows his community will continue to come together to make this happen.

“I can say without a doubt that because of the support we have behind us this initiative it is going to be possible,” Marquez said.

Anyone interested in donating or learning more check out United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley website.

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