Myldred E. Jones
In 1978, Myldred E. Jones, a retired Navy commander, decided that Southern California needed a safe place for runaway and throwaway youth, who at that time had few places to go. She believed that no child should be living on the streets, under freeway overpasses, worrying about their safety and their next meal. So, at the young age of 69 years, Myldred founded Casa Youth Shelter.
Solving the Problem of Youth Homelessness
This did not come from out of the blue. She had long been passionate about solving the problem of youth homelessness. In the late 1960’s, she conducted a study of youth problems in California. One of the problems she identified was the terrible plight of teenagers who had no safe place to call home. To help attack that problem, in 1969 she founded a first-of-its-kind statewide runaway hotline for adolescent youth. Her hotline became the model for many similar services, around the United States and the world.
She knew then that Southern California needed a homeless shelter like the one Casa became, and she began planning to create one. In 1977, Myldred sold her home with a plan to create Casa Youth Shelter, where she herself would also live. She used the proceeds of her home sale to purchase two adjacent lots in Los Alamitos, which to this day form the core of Casa’s campus.
Casa Youth Shelter Welcomes Its First Troubled Youth
On April 7, 1978, the shelter welcomed its first troubled youth through its doors. At the time, the shelter had a minimal budget. There was only one full-time employee. However, with help from surrounding community, and with the support of a legendary zucchini garden which yielded a crop far beyond expectations, the shelter persevered in that first year (though Myldred and the residents were likely sick of zucchini by the end of it).
Casa Youth Shelter Today
Today, Casa Youth Shelter has expanded to six bedrooms with 12 licensed beds. There is also a recreation room, a giving library and a computer center. In 2000, the shelter added a 2,000 square-foot Counseling Center to the lot. The center is used for counseling, parenting classes and a variety of outreach activities. In 2008, Myldred’s cottage was transformed into the Myldred E. Jones Recreation Courtyard, as she had always wanted.