September Second Sunday Offering:
Youth Drop-in Center at First Church
First Church is bringing hope and help to homeless youth and other youth in need of services in the downtown area through a new drop-in center that we are operating in partnership with Sasha Bruce Youthwork and the Downtown Business Improvement District.
And in September, First Church members and friends had an opportunity to assist even more by giving generously to the Second Sunday offering, which was designated to Sasha Bruce for use in support of the drop-in center.
This special offering will supplement the existing drop-in center, which is targeted to individuals 18-24. The center, which is operates at First Church from 6 until 9 p.m. on Monday nights, provides a meal, games, a movie or other entertainment and testing for HIV. Youth also are provided with hygiene packs, which include basic toiletries and supplies.
The Second Sunday funds will pay for items from the following list:
* Backpacks, socks, T-shirts, and underwear to compliment the hygiene kits that are offered to youth.
* Snack packs (water, fruit, granola bars, juice, etc.) that we can offer the youth when they leave the center. We have realized that the youth who attend the drop-in center often are very hungry.
* Restocking games and activities, as we anticipate some items, such as playing cards, markers, coloring books, etc., will make their way out of the center from time to time.
* Support for special guests who require payment to lead art workshops, music workshops, spoken word sessions, and the like.
The drop-in center continues the First Church legacy of engaging directly with our community and working to address issues of homelessness. As noted in recent weeks, Neil Albert, Executive Director of the Downtown BID, shared during a May meeting with Sid Fowler and several First Church leaders a desire by the BID to create a drop-in center for homeless youth ages 18-24 and asked if First Church might consider hosting. With support from the Facilities and Social Action and Awareness Commissions, Church Council and staff, First Church agreed to a three-month pilot, extending from August 15 until November 15.
Initial indicators are that the program will be a success. Youth attendance during the first three weeks has ranged from 16 to 36 people, greatly exceeding initial estimates of three to five youth per week during the start-up phase.
Throughout this process, First Church members have asked that we ensure that we provide meaningful volunteer opportunities as part of the partnership. Sasha Bruce led a training and orientation session for volunteers earlier this month. First Church members and friends Tory Christensen, Monte Hillis, Taylor Sweeney, Nancy Tokola and Priscilla Waters completed the training and have jumped in already. Rev. Sid Fowler, senior minister, and Rev. James D. Ross, social action community organizer, also participated in the training.
Several other people have expressed an interest in volunteering but were unable to participate in the training. Sasha Bruce has agreed to provide a Saturday training in September. We are currently working out the specifics for that training and will provide more information as soon as possible.
For more information, please contact Rev. James D. Ross II at JamesDRossII@gmail.com.