Runaway and Homeless Emergency Youth Shelter is Upstate’s Your Cause charity for 2020

A new Runaway and Homeless Emergency Youth Shelter—a joint effort between the Rescue Mission Alliance, ACR Health and McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center—has been selected by Team Upstate as the university’s 2020 Your Cause charity.

Team Upstate introduced the Your Cause program in 2015 as a way to acknowledge and feature the volunteer work performed by the Upstate family. Your Cause agencies are nominated by Upstate employees and selected by Team Upstate.

In selecting the Runaway and Homeless Emergency Youth Shelter, Upstate has pledged to assist the agency with volunteer support as well provide the organization with up to $5,000 in funding through 2020.

“On behalf of the Rescue Mission Alliance and the homeless youth that will be served by this new program we are incredibly grateful to be selected as the 2020 Your Cause charity,” said Carolyn Hendrickson, senior philanthropy officer of the Rescue Mission Alliance. “Your willingness to partner with us through volunteerism and financially, speaks to the caring spirit of Team Upstate—truly a team that puts love into action.”

The nomination of the emergency shelter was submitted by Upstate’s Patty Mondore and Karen Teelin, MD.

“Dr. Teelin and I were beyond thrilled when the Youth Shelter was selected for the 2020 Your Cause,” said Mondore. “We both work in Pediatrics so this is the age group that our department serves. But homelessness makes this group of youth particularly difficult to provide care to. When I learned that the Rescue Mission had taken on this project I wanted help in any way I could. I knew that Dr. Teelin, as director of our Adolescent Clinic, would also want to be involved so we decided to do the nomination together.”

Said Teelin: “We are honored and excited to work with the Rescue Mission and ACR Health to support the dire need for shelter for these homeless youth, who are marginalized, misunderstood, and often invisible. There are so many caring and committed members of the Department of Pediatrics and the entire Upstate community who are dedicated to promoting and improving the health of local youth, and we are happy to have the support of Team Upstate this year. We look forward to working together to make a difference.”

A request for volunteers to help paint the shelter is already full. But new volunteer opportunities will be available throughout the year. Mondore said anyone interest in aiding the shelter, should contact her at

The new shelter, which is expected to open this summer, will have 10 beds and serve runaway and homeless youth ages 12 to 17 in Syracuse and Onondaga County. There will be a focus on serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

Officials from the Rescue Mission Alliance, ACR Health and McMahon Child Advocacy Center say there is an urgent need for an emergency shelter for this special population. While homelessness affects many youth, the LBGTQ youth are at a greater risk for being homeless. Nationally, 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. The primary reason LGBTQ youth experience homelessness is family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Family members will often force the youth from their home. LGBTQ youth also suffer physical and sexual assaults at higher rates.

The Runaway and Homeless Emergency Youth Shelter will allow the Rescue Mission, ACR Health and the McMahon Child Advocacy Center to bring what they each do best to the project. The Rescue Mission has extensive experience establishing and operating emergency shelters and permanent residences. ACR Health has a proven record providing counseling and programming to youth, specifically LGBTQ youth. McMahon Ryan is dedicated to ending child abuse in the community through prevention, intervention and education by facilitating a coordinated interdisciplinary team approach, meeting the needs of children and families.

In addition to Upstate, numerous other institutions and agencies have signed on to support the shelter. Plymouth Congregational Church has gifted $50,000 toward the project.

Past Your Cause agencies include In My Father’s Kitchen, Clear Path for Veterans, OnPoint for College and Chadwick Residence.

Team Upstate works to promote public awareness of Upstate’s contributions to the community and to encourage volunteer participation among Upstate students, staff, faculty and retirees. Team Upstate sponsors activities and events annually that promote quality of life and maintain Upstate’s mission, vision and values.

Caption: Team Upstate members and Your Cause nominators celebrate the selection of the 2020 Your Cause charity, the new Runaway and Homeless Emergency Youth Shelter. From left, back row: Linda J. Veit, Upstate interim chief of staff; Zanette Howe, Upstate director of community relations and events and Team Upstate Committee chair. Middle row: Patricia Mondore, Department of Pediatrics (co-nominator); Dr. Mantosh Dewan, Upstate interim president; and Dr. Karen Teelin (co-nominator), Department of Pediatrics. Front row: Carolyn Henderickson, senior philanthropy officer of the Rescue Mission; Amber Vander Pleog, chief program officer of the Rescue Mission; and Elise DeAndrea, Library, Team Upstate Committee member.

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