Thomas Jefferson’s Leadership Class organized a donation drop-off for Urban Peak.
On October 10th, the Leadership Class held a donation drop-off for Urban Peak. Urban Peak is a non-profit shelter founded in 1988 with the purpose of helping youth overcome real-life challenges and become self-sufficient adults. This homeless shelter provides a wide variety of free or low-cost services such as overnight shelters, street outreach, a daytime drop-in center, education and employment programming, and supportive housing for boys and girls between the ages of 15-24 who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
The programs and services mentioned above are based on the trauma-informed principles of treating and understanding the impact and role of mental, physical, social, behavioral, spiritual, and intellectual trauma, and positive youth development; many of the youth found in the street have experienced different kinds of hardship. Some were kicked out of their homes for revealing their sexuality or orientation, some aged out of foster care and have nowhere to go, others grew up seeing their parents experience a life of drugs, crime, and abuse, others tried to escape, and even some needed constant care due to their deep physical and mental wounds. Education and employment assistance, services in health care, mental health/substance abuse, and housing are just the beginning of many obstacles faced in order to help youth transition into stable and safe adulthood. An impact and financial report about Urban Peak’s programs, funds, and results is open to the public, as well as tours through their installations. Included in the report too are some of the stories of successful boys and girls that have overcome life on the streets.
During the pandemic, this population has been in an even more vulnerable position, and TJ students looked for ways to support the organization. “We wanted to help,” Maria Londono, a junior at TJ and a member of the Leadership Class declared. “While we stay at home taking care of our families and ourselves, there are people that may not find a warm place to stay the night.”
First, leadership students tried to come up with a strategy for the people of the community to donate items from the need list published by Urban Peak while complying with the social distancing measures. Then, equipped with masks and a positive attitude, they spent their afternoon receiving multiple donations that included school supplies, clothes, blankets and pillows, cookware, board games, hygiene and hair-care products, and sleeping bags, among others. Thereupon, the group classified them into different packages and categories to be later transported toward the organization. “In leadership, we learn to get out of the ordinary and see the big picture,” Londono stated. “We learn to see what we can do for others. It may seem too little at first, but if many of us do it, a small difference turns into a big one”
It is in the toughest times when a smile and a little help means the most. The leadership students reminded everyone of the importance of bringing hope when the world is filled with uncertainty. For a year where nothing looks like it used to, a simple act of kindness gives a lesson not only to the person doing it but to the people around them: everyone is facing something; everyone needs each other. The Leadership Class is grateful to the community for all the work they have done and the support they always show.