Shelter Staff

Meet our shelter staff

Erika Alvarez


What did the non-binary prospector say before heading into the mountains? 'There's gold in them/their hills.'

Erika (they/them) serves as the Shelter Manager for Y.E.S's Shelter for unhoused youth. Erika is excited to have contributed to the creation of a new resource for the community and is eager to serve and advocate for Siskiyou County's youth.

Erika has been working in social services since early college and has developed a tremendous passion for this field. They recently returned to their hometown of Siskiyou County after residing in Sacramento for eight years, where they graduated from Sacramento State with a bachelor's degree in 2020.

Their work experience includes roles as a Residential Counselor, followed by Assistant Administrator at youth residential therapeutic treatment facilities. They have also been involved in case management and housing navigation for military veterans and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness, in addition to working as a Mental Health Specialist.

Erika possesses extensive training in trauma-informed care, case management, and mental health first aid/suicide assessment and prevention. In their role as a as a Certified CPI Instructor, Erika is able to mitigate crises through de-escalation techniques and behavior management. Furthermore, Erika is currently working towards certification as an instructor for trauma-informed care, with expected completion by the end of 2023. Additionally, they are in the process of obtaining certification in Naloxone administration.

Erika strives to create a safe and trauma-informed environment where unhoused youth can acquire independent living skills, confidence, and self-sustainability, ultimately graduating from the Shelter's program into their own homes. Erika firmly believes that housing, food, clothing, and basic necessities are fundamental human rights.



Lauren Sitter

Shelter Staff

Lauren is one of our Shelter Staff team members and is looking forward to using her background as a collegiate student advisor, lead camp counselor, and nature center educator to enhance the lives of youth experiencing homelessness.

She has achieved a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Equine Science and a Minor in Creative Writing. She finds that creative outlets, introspective activities, community support, and play are excellent ways to develop emotional maturity and guide ourselves towards our goals.

Lauren enjoys spending time in nature, learning about languages and cultures, playing music, and taking her dog for car rides. She’s particularly passionate about uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community and helping youth embrace their unique personalities and skills.


Lonata Kaufman

Shelter Staff

Lonata is a dedicated and compassionate professional with a diverse background encompassing childcare, mental health support, and outdoor adventure. She grew-up in Crescent City, California, and later moved to South Lake Tahoe where she started a family and raised two kids. She has worked various jobs, but found her true passion in caregiving.

Lonata’s caregiving experiences mostly include working in childcare, babysitting, and preschool support, but she has also volunteered in youth sports programs for over 12 years. Her true passion involves creating safe and nurturing environments for children to flourish.

Lonata's life journey has also exposed her to the challenges of mental health, both through her work as a Certified Nurse Assistant in a mental health hospital and her personal experiences. She advocates for understanding, empathy, and awareness in supporting individuals facing mental health issues.

Lonata's personal growth journey includes a deepening connection to her Native American heritage and nature. She finds sanctuary in spending time outdoors which is reflected in her love for activities such as hiking, swimming, biking, and kayaking.

Lonata combines a free-spirited "hippie" mindset with a resilient "hood" spirit to inspire her mission of promoting kindness, understanding, and unity among all people. Life may be challenging, but Lonata believes in making it easier for one another.


Ryan Romero

Shelter Staff

Ryan has been a resident of Siskiyou County since childhood. As a foster child, who was later raised by his grandparents, he has firsthand experience with the effects of family separation.

Ryan pursued higher education at both the College of the Siskiyous and Southern Oregon University, earning a Bachelor's of Science Degree in History. Serving as a substitute teacher, he has worked with students of all ages, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, at various schools across the county.

His primary focus at the shelter is to help residents access education and employment opportunities. Ryan's mission is to empower young individuals by equipping them with essential life skills they may not have had the opportunity to acquire elsewhere, enabling them to thrive in this rural community.

In his free time, Ryan is passionate about conserving old books, hiking, and he enjoys indulging in the study of botany.


Sloan Hart

Shelter Staff

Sloan is excited about her role as Shelter Staff in this new Y.E.S. endeavor, bringing a wealth of experience in various aspects of public health, ranging from epidemiological studies to hospice care and substance abuse and recovery. Sloan originally hails from Massachusetts but relocated to Yreka in 2014. Holding an M.A. in Forensic Paleopathology, Sloan has extensive knowledge in emergency services, where she served as an EMT-Paramedic for seven years. She is proficient in providing compassionate patient care and assistance to individuals.

Sloan firmly believe that her comprehensive background in addressing issues related to family trauma, childcare, and societal/cultural pathologies will be invaluable in advancing the mission of offering safe, stable, and nurturing support to the shelter's residents.