LANCASTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — Plymouth Crossroads in Lancaster provides shelter for homeless and runaway boys ages 16-20. But the pandemic has hit them hard, causing them to close their doors. Now, they're turning to the WNY community for help.
"We ourselves are homeless and transitioning but we are not giving up the faith. We've seen the support of WNY community. It will work out," said Jennifer McAndrew, Executive Director.
Since they opened in 2011, more than 160 boys have lived at Plymouth Crossroads, including Steven Willet, 20.
“I don’t look at it as a shelter. this is a home to me,” said Willet.
Willet on his own in Buffalo with nowhere to turn and found himself Plymouth Crossroads. His life quickly improved and he became the first in his family to go all four straight years and graduate with a scholarship.
“We’re able to give them the independent living skills that they need that are crucial for them to move out and live independently on their own. We’ve created an extended family," said McAndrew.
They house eight boys for several months at a time and then help set them up with jobs and schooling in Lancaster to move on. It's different from a regular shelter or foster care programs in that it's voluntary, which McAndrew says encourages these young men to do their best.
They closed in March when the pandemic began, then opened again in May. They were hoping for grants and state funding that never came, leading them to close again this month.
“There just isn’t money to keep the lights on, keep the heat on and make sure there’s food on the table for the boys," said McAndrew.
McAndrew is the only staff member left. She’s still answering the phones and helping boys any way she can when they call. She’s asking the community to step in.
"People have said it takes a village to raise a child, but we have 169 and counting, so we need all the help we can get. Whether it’s picking up a couple extra pair of socks...or a monetary donation, but there’s no gift too small," said McAndrew.
Their biggest concern right now is having a place for alumni to come home for the holidays.
“These are not the times for these boys to be on their own out there. They do say home is where the heart is, so we’re losing our house, but our home is intact,” said McAndrew.
You can also send checks to P.O. Box 1130, West Seneca, 14224.