About RSO

Close-up purple tents grouped together under the trees at night.
About Reggie's

Meet Reggie

2021 marked 20 years since the passing of Reggie Kelsey and his memory lives on at the heart of this event.

Reggie’s Sleepout was created in 2005 in memory of Reggie Kelsey. Reggie was a young man who aged out of the foster care system in 2001, and within three and a half months, was found dead in the Des Moines River.

Reggie had an endearing personality but suffered from hallucinations and depression. He worried about how he would survive on his own. After being kicked out of his latest foster care placement, Reggie bounced from one shelter to another. Occasionally he camped outside while working with Iowa Homeless Youth Centers’ Street Outreach Program.

As a result of Reggie’s death, Youth & Shelter Services, Inc. (IHYC’s parent organization) led the effort to develop the Iowa Aftercare Services Network to provide services to those aging out of foster care. The program has now been expanded to include a monthly stipend and additional services and is referred to as the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program.

Reggie’s Sleepout is named in honor of Reggie, and our commitment to preventing another tragedy.

Why we sleepout

In the year’s following the first Reggie’s Sleepout, YSS and IHYC has been able to continue to expand their services to help homeless and at-risk youth in Central Iowa. As the world around us continues to change so does the methods and areas of focus we utilize with homeless and at-risk youth. Learn about some of the exciting projects we are working on now to improve the lives of our youth and break the cycle of poverty. 

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Youth Opportunity Center - Drop in space

Located in downtown Des Moines, IHYC’s Youth Opportunity Center provides a variety of services, including: Street outreach, drop in hours, an art center, computer lab, nine emergency beds and mental health counseling. During drop in hours youth can access
Showers, laundry, meals, donations and more seven days a week.

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6th Avenue Flats - Affordable housing

Located in the heart of the city, the 6th Avenue Flats is a joint project between
HDG and Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) to provide housing to
homeless youth in the Foster Care Program of Iowa. A portion of the 42
apartments will be reserved for YSS youth who have been homeless and
are in the foster care program. The building will offer on-site supportive
services from YSS and is less than a five minute walk to DMACC Urban
Campus, C Fresh Market, University Laundry and more.

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Rooftop Gardens - career development

Rooftop Gardens works to break the cycle of poverty by providing guided work experience
and financial support. Rooftop Gardens will teach/mentor transition age youth who lack the
soft-skills required to secure employment. Youth will help operate our year-round rooftop
hydroponic farm
with guidance from staff, providing them with job skills, access to healthy
(locally grown) foods, nutrition education, and community engagement.

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