For the second year, the Leedy Grange and Impressions Dance Club provided a wonderful night of dancing and fundraising in support of HomePlate! Volunteer Coordinator, Amy Smetana, gave a short presentation about HomePlate and introduced some of our volunteers. Guests were encouraged to bring gift cards and other in-kind donations which totaled over $2,500, plus over $500 in cash and checks. What a great evening of community support to ring in the holidays!
HomePlate was invited by Bag & Baggage Productions to participate in “Brave Space”, a unique opportunity for youth to share with an intimate audience their experiences with being housing unstable or homeless. The three youth who participated have each been with HomePlate several years and gave us insights into their inspiring journeys to stability. Bianetth and Kirsten interviewed the youth with pre-screened questions in a conversational format.
Brave Space is offered as part of a grant that Bag & Baggage received to bring diverse voices and perspectives to the community. Each youth was paid for their participation. The audience is invited to listen and reflect on what they hear without judgment. At the end the audience had time to ask the youth and staff questions.
Laura, one of the youth interviewed, described how important coming to HomePlate's drop-in has been to her over the years. She said, "The meals are the reason I come to HomePlate. It's nice to get a hot, homemade meal and be around smiling faces who help and support me." She also said, "Everything I do, I do for [my son] Caden and HomePlate has been consistent and supportive for me to be successful for myself and Caden."
Alec, another youth who was interviewed, described how he came to HomePlate to be away from a challenging home environment. He said, "I may have not been homeless at the time, but I wanted to be home less." HomePlate was a place where he could feel safe and supported, and also get help he needed when he did leave his family's home to find place to live.
We are incredibly proud of the courage of the youth to share their stories of perseverance and resilience.
We’re incredibly grateful for the commitment and support of Lisa & Tom Genereux! Not only do they volunteer to serve dinner every first Monday of the month, but Tom also serves on our Finance Committee. Earlier this month we received a $10,000 gift from Lisa which was matched by her employer, Dell, Inc.! Lisa & Tom have also given many in-kind donations from granola bars to computers, and have answered our requests very generously. We are deeply appreciative by their investment and caring of the young people we serve. Thanks for all that you do for HomePlate!
As we approach this season of gratitude, we thank you for your support, which has made the difference in the lives of many young people. Be inspired by Laura’s story of persistence and resilience to find education, employment, housing, community, and a safe environment for her son.
Laura’s quick smile and easy warmth belie her early life challenges. She was put into foster care as a toddler after her biological mother was unable to care for her. Laura was adopted by a family who helped keep her connected to her mother, but she has painful memories of growing up and struggled throughout her teens led to her becoming homeless.
At age 16, after being on the streets a few months, Laura met one of the HomePlate Outreach Team at a transit station. He listened to her concerns and gave her water and beef jerky. He also invited her to drop-in for a meal, resources, and a safe place to be. At that time she was living on the streets and hanging out with “a bad group of people who were into drugs.” Although her life on the streets was chaotic, HomePlate became a place of consistency, caring, and safety. With HomePlate’s support she completed her high school diploma and eventually worked with the Youth Employment Program dog-sitting at the Beaverton Farmers’ Market.
When Laura was 18, she was shocked to learn she was pregnant. After her son Caden was born, HomePlate staff visited her in the hospital and helped her with clothing, diapers, and more. She strongly felt she needed to change her abusive and unstable situation for the sake of her child. Laura stayed with friends and family, worked several different jobs, and kept coming to HomePlate drop-ins. Caden enjoyed the HomePlay program and knows many of our Core Volunteers.
Last spring, Laura had a chance meeting with the manager of a Starbucks Coffee shop and was hired as a barista. She loves her job, has been given more responsibilities, and was just promoted to Shift Manager. With the help of HomePlate’s Outreach Team, she also applied for a transitional living program through Boys and Girls Aid. She now has stable and safe housing and the support she needs to keep it. Sometimes it is hard being a single parent, but she says, “Everything I do is so that Caden can have a better life. He is my number one priority even when things are tough.” At age 23 she still occasionally comes to drop-ins and enjoys connecting with the HomePlate community.
We are deeply inspired by Laura’s energy and determination. Your generous support makes successes like Laura’s possible.
Our Holiday store provides young people the opportunity to practice generosity. This empowering activity can provide not only a happier holiday season for our youth and their families, but invests in supporting youth to be caring, generous and civically engaged citizens for our community—and your donation of a new, unwrapped gift make it possible. Gifts for all ages are appropriate as the youth will be giving them to their aunts, grandmothers, siblings, and babies.
We’re excited to welcome “Employment Pete” to the HomePlate team! Peter just completed his M.P.A. and has an extensive background in working with youth. He is looking forward to meeting with youth and community partners and can be reached at email@example.com or 971-400-0551.