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Homeless youth & a birthday request

In 2003, a class of 8th grade students set off on a three-day journey, walking the streets of Seattle, volunteering in shelters and other businesses that serve the homeless population, sleeping on concrete floors, and gaining a faint glimpse into the lives of homeless people.

It was experiential. It was powerful.

“You are not homeless. In no way are you homeless. In three days, you have a home to go back to. Do not, for a minute, think that you are homeless.” Our teachers emphasized this important clarification.

My group walked about 50-60 miles in three days, a record high for my lazy self. Most groups only did about 20-30.

We made brown paper bag lunches.

We cleaned the free laundromat where people in need could shower, shave, and wash their clothing.

We served meals at a few soup kitchens and missions (and ate there, too).

We were given enough money for one bus ride and one meal. We scraped our coins together and ordered off the Dollar Menu at McDonalds, splitting cheeseburgers and fries. For the other meals, we ate at the shelters where we served.

We learned about Real Change, a newspaper--created by a former homeless man and written by members of the homeless community--that provide jobs for those who can’t seem to find anything else.

We learned about the YWCA, its job-search program, and its housing for abused women.

There were two places that affected me more than the rest. First was The Orion Center (now YouthCare’s Orion Center), a center where homeless youth can stay, learn, play games, and more. Most importantly, it is a safe space for them.

The second was a photography exhibit that told the story of several of Seattle’s homeless youth.

There was a photograph of a guy named Rooster (named for the red mohawk he sported) who was the protector, the father-figure--a teen with a heart of gold and a radiant spirit. His portrait stood out the most to me. I felt grateful to know that he existed and that the teens had an advocate to look up to.

Then I found out that Rooster was killed not long before we left for our three-day journey, stabbed while trying to protect someone in a violent situation. My heart wept.

As I think about my website and what I want to bring, give, and put out into the world, I think of Rooster, his strength, his passion, his care, and his love. And I want to give what I can to the homeless youth population, to help ensure the resources available to them stay open so that they have advocates and a safe space.

This is why I have decided to support and advocate for two homeless youth-focused organizations, YouthCare’s Orion Center and The Happy Hippie Foundation (started by Miley Cyrus) for my birthday!

I will turn 28 on January 20. Unlike Rooster, I made it one more full rotation of the Earth around the sun.

As a gift, I implore you to donate to either YouthCare’s Orion Center and/or The Happy Hippie Foundation. At a minimum, I ask that you learn a little bit more about these organizations and/or more about the homeless youth population in your city.

Click here to donate to YouthCare’s Orion Center in Seattle

Click here to donate to The Happy Hippie Foundation

Please join me in working toward making a difference for homeless youth in the United States.

Thank you!

With Love,