Twin Falls Optimist Youth House
With Barry Knoblich
Barry started thinking about the mission of the Optimist Youth House in 2014 when told by a woman he knew from CASA (judges appoint CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in court and other settings) about a young man sleeping in the car of a friend because he had aged out of Foster Care and had no place to live.
He looked into the facts and found some services for this age group, but in most cases, they needed a place to live. One of the county commissioners, Jack Johnson, is a Twin Falls Optimist Club member, and Barry asked him if he had anything. Johnson said they had a building but had already started demolishing the property.
Barry asked Johnson if they could look at the building because it was an optimal location. They drove to the property and looked it over even though they didn’t have the keys. Barry asked Jack if he could stop the demolition until the site could be investigated as a possibility for a future youth house.
The county could donate the House, but Barry was told the roof was no longer functional. They reached out to Rainguard Roofing but did not know the owner, Shae Mayner, when he visited the site, took measurements, and told me that it would be costly and complex. As he was leaving, it was snowing outside. She asked Barry, “What will this be used for?” Barry said, “This will be a home for young people who have aged out of Foster Care.” Shae’s expression indicated recognition, so Barry asked, “You know something about Foster Kids?” And he said, “Yes, we used to be Foster Parents.” Barry asked, “You’re not anymore?” And Shae replied, “No. We adopted them.”
So, from that proper conversation, he became one of our major donors and donated that roof! Since then, we have found that when people discover what we’re doing, their hearts are touched, and they want to help. Almost everything we’ve needed to complete the renovation of the House has been donated or discounted—very few items we’ve had to pay the total price.
It’s been like that since the beginning . . . the contractors have made all the difference in the renovation of this House. The Volunteers have made a HUGE donation to the House. All of the demolition and all of the prep work was done solely by volunteers.