Our brand new Beautiful Together project, also our first full project based in the United States, is focused on working to improve the quality of life for impoverished youth in America – specifically, homeless youth who have recently cycled out of foster care and are struggling to find a home, a job, and a community.
We are thrilled to be partnering with RunningWorks, as they expand their extraordinary, life-changing program with an additional focus on stopping the destructive cycle of homelessness. One of the major things we have learned is that, as helpful as homeless shelters can be, it is often difficult for homeless youth to figure out life on the streets, to learn how shelters and feeding programs work, to get transportation to and from life-changing opportunities – and so much more. In order to break away, there needs to be access to something as simple as showers, the ability to get clean, to feel better, to stay healthy in unhealthy environments. This is difficult for homeless youth for many reasons – not just the long lines they share with adults but also repeatedly being part of environments where they may not be prepared to protect themselves as needed. Some of the children RunningWorks assists are as young as 4 years old. Many are young teens who have left abusive or neglectful situations, a foster care system that repeatedly moved them from home to home (sometimes over ten times) for years, or they are simply kids who have made a mistake and now face the overwhelmingly daunting cycle of poverty.
We would like to supply Running Works with a set of private, portable showers and a generous supply of toiletries and towels, as well as some much-needed bus passes, so they can not only offer homeless youth showers on site, but they can also move the showers with them as they continue to grow as an organization.
This relatively simple thing – clean, safe showers for homeless youth – offers them not only the dignity that we all deserve, but the opportunity to stay healthy and have the best opportunity to present themselves in a way that can dramatically change their lives. RunningWorks operates on the mentality that sometimes you need to love people before they can love themselves and you need to believe in people before they believe in themselves. We love that. We believe in that. We sat down with Meredith Dolhare, the Executive Director of RunningWorks, to hear to learn about the organization and the project. You can hear more in the video below – yes, it’s a whopping 19 minutes, but it really breaks down the cause and effect of aging out of foster care at such a young age and why the correlation between that life experience and homelessness is so strong.
We are hoping to make a small but meaningful dent in all the obstacles that stand between these kids and a better life. Please visit our project page to donate directly to this fund – and/or please consider sharing this with others who can help!