Earlier this year, we acquired the Runaway and Youth Services (RAYS) Program. RAYS is based in Sheboygan, and serves youth in both Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties. The ultimate goal of RAYS is for youth in the community to successfully transition to independent living at adulthood while providing additional support unaccompanied minors, and runaway, homeless, and throwaway youth.
RAYS works two-fold as both a prevention-focused program serving all youth and an intervention service for youth in crisis. It provides education and access to information, resources, and basic needs such as food, hygiene supplies, and shelter/housing referrals. The compassionate RAYS team provides street outreach, drop-in programming, presentations, community events, group opportunities and one-on-one/family mediation sessions. Youth gain independent living skills, as well as social emotional and coping skills so they increase their positive community connections and relationships to help them achieve independent living. Every year, RAYS provides over 3,000 contacts with youth in Sheboygan and Manitowoc Counties.
“We are humbled to have this opportunity to serve youth in Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties, and walk with them through their successful transition into adulthood,” said Ryan Good, President & CEO of Foundations, regarding the acquisition of RAYS. “RAYS complements the work we already are doing in Sheboygan and the greater Lakeshore area to support youth in foster care. By focusing on prevention and immediate basic needs, RAYS can maintain youth in their biological homes. With RAYS being a part of Foundations, we are delighted to have a new staff member, Emily Kunde, join us. Emily has been working with the RAYS program for over 6 years, and brings a wealth of knowledge, compassion, and vision to supporting youth in the community.”
During the COVID19 pandemic, RAYS continues to provide critical ongoing youth services, including food pantry and hygiene items, virtual family mediation sessions, and other opportunities. Youth and community members interested in the RAYS programs can reach out to program manager Emily Kunde at [email protected] or (920) 458-7100. RAYS is located at 816 N. 8th St, Sheboygan, WI. In addition to managing the RAYS program, Emily co-chairs the Sheboygan Housing Coalition.
Prior to Foundations, RAYS was a program of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.