Curtiss Robinson knew he needed help a little more than a year ago when he started staying with friends instead of at home.
“I was couch-surfing friend to friend for about three months,” the 17-year-old recalled.
Curtiss learned about Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth from a business card, and entered himself into the program because of family problems.
He recently was named the inaugural Youth of the Year by the nonprofit organization.
Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, founded in 1999, aims to eliminate homelessness among the state’s youth. The program, said Curtiss, gave him “housing, food and paid for expenses for school.”
Kathleen Boutin, the executive director and founder of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, said Curtiss was named Youth of the Year by the organization’s staff and case workers because of his “academic achievements.”
While at Rancho High School, Curtiss played varsity basketball, track and tennis, was voted prom king and earned a grade-point average of more than 3.8.
“Mostly I excelled in math,” he said.
Curtiss’ feelings about receiving the honor from the organization are mixed.
“I kind of feel like I don’t deserve it,” he said. “I didn’t do anything but go to school.”
Curtiss feels that what he did isn’t “tremendously special.”
“I try to do my best as much as I can,” he said.
Curtiss added, “I’m glad I got it and I’m happy.”
Boutin said this is the organization’s second year of offering housing to youth, and soon will expand to include a 16-bed facility.
At the organization, Boutin said, the staff tells “the kids yesterday doesn’t matter. Focus on the future.”
There also is an emphasis on strengthening family relationships, which Curtiss has been working on.
According to Boutin, Curtiss has “made progress with his mother and with his grandparents out of state.”
“He has matured a lot, and turned into a very nice young man.” Boutin said. “He is a lot more optimistic and really wants to succeed in life. I’m proud of him.”
Curtiss, who recently graduated from Rancho, will attend Howard University in the fall where he plans on majoring in civil engineering.
“My career goal is to be an automotive designer,” said Curtiss, whose favorite cars are Mustangs. He added he would like to make a “new fuel-efficient car.”
This summer he plans to “work and save money for college” before leaving for Washington, D.C., in the middle of August.
In other youth news:
* The Children’s Heart Foundation will have its annual Camp Mend-a-Heart June 24-27 at the Rapport Executive Ranch in Alamo. The medically supervised camp for children with heart problems is open to ages 7-18, with ages 3-6 invited to stay on June 27 when the camp will offer a carnival, lunch and closing ceremonies. For more information and an application, visit campmendaheart.com or call 967-3522.
If you know of a worthy candidate for this column, mail information to Youth Spotlight, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070, or send faxes to 383-4676.