Like other non profit organizations, we often get asked exactly what our programming does, and even more so, what the impact is. For a small organization with multiple moving pieces, it can be hard to truly articulate and translate our actions and programs into tangible impact, especially if you’re not versed in the rhetoric or strategies used. To better understand, we wanted to break down who we serve, what we do, and why it matters.
We serve trauma-impacted, marginalized families. While our focus is placed on the youth we serve, we understand the paramount reality of the need for family healing and stabilization to best empower our youth. Our families live in shelter programs or income based housing programs, and reuse 125% or more below the poverty line. Our programs include mentorship, a youth photography program, a life skills course, and stabilization resources like food and clothing. Our goal is to cultivate healing, resilience, and self-sustainability.
But what does that really mean? And what is the impact?
The families we serve are living in poverty. They are recovering from serious hardships and trauma from experiencing homelessness to experiencing abuse, mental illness, disability, and more. They’re also still battling ongoing trauma- from their past, to current struggles like food insecurity and health issues. Our goal is to help remove any speed bumps that may prevent the family and our youth from not only healing, but empowerment to achieve self- sustainability and wellness goals.
Something as simple as donated clothing is a great example of understanding impact. You may think it’s just clothing, just something to keep you warm. But in reality, the impact is so much greater. It’s clothing to feel confident enough in to take on that new job interview. It’s clothing to not be picked on for, to not feel ostracized or outcasted for. It’s 7 hours a week given back to a tired mother who now only has to spend one day a week commuting an hour on the bus with laundry bags and three children instead of two because she has enough clothing to last the week now. A bed isn’t just a bed. It’s a place of safety and comfort. It’s the ability to recharge and feel stability. It’s a piece of home and sanctuary.
The time we spend with our youth is a safe haven for them- one whee they don’t have to wonder what band they’re going to be dealt that day. It’s safety and protection from all the predators lurking to exploit them, a refuge from the dangerous situations waiting to find them. It’s a dose of hope and a window into the life that they are building and working towards. It’s the gift of time and passion, and the ability to explore their identity without it being defined by their trauma.