The founder of Tonya’s House, worked closely with homeless youth in need of a place to call their home. As an educator, she encountered youth that had the desire to complete their education, but many had to drop out of school due to homelessness or other barriers.

During the 1995-96 school year, she conducted a survey at the local school and 124 youth reported being homeless or living in a stressful home. Since there were no programs in rural Eastern Oregon to provide housing for youth, she recruited community support and started the project.

Tonya’s House was established as a non-profit organization in 1997 to serve homeless and at-risk youth. In September 1998, Tonya’s House purchased a house in need of extensive repair, located in Pendleton, Ore. Most of the funds used to purchase the house came from a generous donation from the local Presbyterian Women. Grants, donations and thousands of volunteer hours assisted the organization with the costs to purchase the house and complete the renovation phase.

On June 26, 2001, Tonya’s House opened its doors and started housing girls. Since this time we have provided over 2,800 nights of housing and 3,500 outreach contacts.

In 2002, Tonya’s House started its outreach program for male and female youth and secured a state license to house female youth between the age of 14 to 17 years old. Tonya’s House is able to work with male youth through our outreach program, and hope to secure funds to assist male youth with housing in the future.

During 2003, in addition to safe housing, Tonya’s House provided outreach services for at-risk male and female youth. Outreach services include positive support, advocacy, mentoring, problem solving, and information and referral to other community services. We added “Safe Place” to our program, which provides respite and emergency overnight stays.

Other outreach services may include assistance with employment, transportation to seek employment, medical appointments or enroll in an education program. We offer positive support and mentoring to youth seeking to become self-sufficient.

In 2009, Tonya’s House entered into an agreement with the Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI) to provide beds for GOBHI-supported girls. This is what we call our “Changing Perspectives Program.” Other funds within the Tonya’s House budget has enabled non-GOBHI girls to also be housed at Tonya’s House. This is known as our “Teen Support Program.”