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Local nonprofit works to protect homeless teenagers with nowhere to go

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OKLAHOMA CITY -  When issues arise at home, many teenagers are forced to become homeless.

However, a nonprofit organization is working to make sure those kids have a safe place to sleep.

In 2010, Penny Reynolds founded 'Sisu Youth,' a nonprofit day shelter for homeless youth.

Unlike other homeless shelter, Sisu is geared specifically toward teenagers and youths up to 24-years-old.

"We certainly wanted a place that was just for youth that's a safe place that's focused on them and their needs,” Board President of Sisu Youth Jamie Caves said.

After creating the day shelter, organizers stumbled upon an even bigger issue for those in need.

"You need your parent to go to an adult shelter with you so you can go into an adult shelter," Caves said.

Since many of the teenagers are not connected with their parents for one reason or another, they were left on their own.

"She was actually going and picking up teenagers off the street and taking them to the day center,” Caves said. "But then in the evenings when the day center closed, she had to take them back and she was dropping them off at the parking lot downtown and hoping they were still doing okay."

Organizers say they knew they needed to do something to protect the teenagers at night.

Now, they will allow those who are 15, 16 or 17-years-old to spend Sunday and Monday nights at the shelter.

"We'll help them get to school in the mornings. We'll have tutors and help here for them to get their homework done. We'll also be able to send them off to school with a bagged lunch," Caves said.

In addition to providing a safe place to stay, the shelter collects donations of shoes, socks and clothing. It also relies on volunteers to cook hot meals for the kids and doing laundry.

"So they won't worry about things like being dirty or smelling bad in class or hungry. It's really hard to concentrate when you haven't had a good night's sleep," she said.