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Youth Shelter Harbour House In Danger Of Closing After Pandemic Slowed Fundraising

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) -- The pandemic has made it tough for some struggling teens to connect with support programs, because schools and libraries tend to be the places they find information about resources.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory took us inside an emergency youth shelter in Des Plaines that is in danger of closing, just as access to help starts to open back up.

Putting her life back together was puzzling at first for Sophia Stefaniuk.

"I was super lost," she said. "When you don't feel like there's a home for you, you don't know what to do."

But the Harbour House's warmth, and the sense of normalcy at this homeless shelter for teens calmed her nerves.

"I remember there was a bunch of people cooking in the kitchen," she said.

She spent nearly three weeks at the shelter. During that short stay, the then 18-year-old had access to resources like job support.  It also didn't take long to notice Harbour House itself was in need of love, too.

"Water leaking, The ceiling is super low," she said.

"It is definitely falling apart," said Ted Sigg, a volunteer handyman, who showed CBS 2 a caved-in ceiling and the pump he jerry-rigged to help with recurring flooding.

Duct taped windows, power issues, constantly crumbling drywall; and that's just the basement.

"It would have cost more to remodel than just to build new," said Kris Salyards, executive director at The Harbour.

The non-profit hoped to start construction on a modernized shelter at Harbour House last year, but COVID-19 really slowed fundraising.  It seemed like a long road for the last $600,000 needed, until earlier this year when an anonymous donor gave them a $300,000 gift if they can match it with other donations.

"So, we're raising money to put this house up," Salyards said, tears in her eyes.

Waterworks in part because the fire marshal is paying attention. The building needed to be bulldozed like, yesterday.

The clock is ticking for the upgraded and up-to-code accommodations that'll safely house hundreds of 12-to-20 year-olds each year.

"You felt like you could smile for a just a little bit," Stefaniuk said.

A much-needed fix to help those a little broken.

Time is also running out to get the $300,000 match. The deadline is April 11.

Donations can be made at

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