Myldred Jones '29 Opens Her Heart and Home to Troubled Youth
Tucked away amid the hills of southern California sits the small community of Los Alamitos and a small home with not such a small family. Since 1978, Casa Youth Shelter has served as a safe haven for thousands of troubled youth, homeless teenagers and other children in desperate need of help and love thanks to its 95-year-old founder Myldred Jones.
“I started Casa Youth Shelter because I had worked a lot with teenagers, and I knew there were many of them out on the street with no place to go,” she said.
“Terrible things can happen to a child who’s out on the street for only a few days.”
Prior to founding the shelter, Jones served as a consultant to then California Governor Ronald Reagan, following an illustrious 17-year career in the U.S. Navy where she retired as Lt. Commander.
As a consultant, Jones embarked on an 18-month state study of the problems plaguing U.S. youth, and, in 1968, she founded the first adolescent hotline, which has since become a model throughout the United States and internationally.
Despite the success, Jones was still not satisfied, so she sold her home and purchased two lots nearby in order to create Casa Youth Shelter. Jones recalled that the shelter had only one paid staff member and managed to survive that first year thanks in part to her bountiful zucchini garden.
Since then, more than 9,500 youths have spent more than 80,000 nights at the temporary refuge, and 750,000 meals have been served. Counseling services, drug education and art therapy are among Casa’s many services. Jones has also helped more than 35,000 family members through her compassion and commitment.]
“Some of the children who have been at Casa and who have gone on to other things have written back to me and told me about their accomplishments,” Jones said. “They really are making a difference.”