Tucson Charity Bridge Club Founder Ruth Houkom, standing, with Patti Schadow, left, Harriet Kronman and Patty Everts at Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church.


Members of the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association are all about building - not only roofs, but also futures - and they are asking for help with their next project.

No experience is required and no tools are necessary to join the Seventh Annual "Raising the Roof for Youth on Their Own" Charity Bowling Tournament July 10 at Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will directly benefit Youth on Their Own (YOTO), which helps homeless Tucson teens graduate from high school.

"Youth on Their Own allows children to be accountable by actually setting goals and signing a contract that they will get good grades; because of that they will get a living stipend so they can support themselves and become successful," said Martin Headlee, an owner of Headlee Roofing Co.

Headlee is co-chairman of the upcoming tournament with Sam Brush, who works in outside sales for Allied Building Products.

Accountability has been the cornerstone of the nonprofit as it has assisted 10,000 youths over the past 25 years, according to executive director Teresa Baker.

YOTO identifies and aids students 13 to 21 who lack stable homes, through a network of liaisons in 110 public, alternative and charter schools.

Free services for students include a monthly stipend, a Basic Needs Bank that provides food, clothing, personal items, school supplies and household goods; bus passes; emergency financial assistance with rent, utilities and other needs; and referral to other agencies for counseling, healthcare and housing.

Baker said youths involved in the program are good kids whose families have been disrupted by physical or emotional abuse, parental alcohol and/or drug abuse or incarceration, divorce, problems with stepparents or poverty.

Homeless teens are often ashamed and may try to hide their circumstances, she said, adding that the problem is universal and affluent schools are not exempt.

"This is prevalent at every school district in this town. People don't think of District 16 or Tanque Verde having homeless kids, but they do," Baker said. "So many people in Tucson go through life day by day and have no idea that we have a homeless teen population in our town."

Headlee, Brush and other members of the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association seek to draw attention to the almost invisible population through the annual bowling tournament, which has raised more than $100,000 since its inception and is YOTO's second-largest annual fundraiser.

Headlee said every dollar will help support the educational endeavors of 450 to 500 children during the upcoming school year.

"The kids' self-worth shouldn't be tied in to what happens to them in their personal lives," Headlee said. "We are doing the best we can by supporting them financially so they can graduate and become functioning, productive members of society."

If You Go

What: "Raising the Roof for YOTO" Seventh Annual Charity Bowling Tournament.

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 10. Registration begins at 11 a.m.

Where: Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile.

Cost: $300 per team of six.

The details: Festivities at the event include three games of tournament bowling, shoe rental, lunch, a goodie bag, event T-shirt, a prize lane featuring prizes such as bicycles and electronics, a raffle and a silent auction. The theme is "Elvis and the 1950s" and participants are welcome to dress in costume.

If you can't attend the tournament, consider buying a raffle ticket. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and you need not be present to win. The grand prize is a 42-inch flat-screen TV; other prizes include a minimum of $500 cash, a 32-inch flat-screen TV and a mini laptop.

To make a donation for tournament prizes or for more information, registration or raffle tickets, call Sam Brush at 400-5165.

For more information about Youth on Their Own, go to www.yoto.org or call 293-1136.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net