GIVE A GIFT, MAKE A DIFFERENCE: santa monica girls and boys CLUB HOSTS EVENT ON YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

here is a press release for an event i volunteered at last friday night;

GIVE A GIFT, MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
CLUB PARTNERS WITH KOODOOZ TO DO GOOD FOR HOMELESS YOUTH

A night without a home. . . On any given evening  there are approximately 50 homeless families with children in Santa Monica. To raise awareness around youth homelessness the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica and KooDooZ hosted a “Night without a Home” last Friday. Over 100 Club Kids, volunteers and members of the community came together for a thoughtful discussion and activities around every-day actions we can take to help those in need. The event was held outdoors on the basketball courts behind the main Clubhouse. It was a fitting venue for a talk on homelessness as the fog rolled in and attendees shared blankets and coats to keep warm.

Special guest speaker Jonas Corona, just 7-years old, shared how he has assembled 1,500 backpacks filled with supplies with his organization “Love in The Mirror” for kids experiencing homelessness. Ehecatl Rojas of Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN), which serves local homeless youth throughout the county, shared characteristics of children in distress and made suggestions for supporting this vulnerable population as part of the discussion. Concerned Club members, some not much older than Jonas, had plenty of questions on what they could do to help.

“Not since the Great Depression have so many kids stood at poverty’s door,” shared Lee Fox, founder of KooDooZ.  “The purpose of the event is to expose the harsh realities of youth homelessness and also to give kids smarter ways to address this humanitarian challenge,” added Fox. Located in Santa Monica, KooDooZ is a cause-based social networking site for “KDZ” (friends , students and agents of change) who aspire to make the world a better place.

After the discussion Club members assembled care packages with handmade cards, personal journals and blankets to be donated to LAYN. Volunteers from local businesses including Yoga for Change, Le Merigot Hotel, Muselli Commercial Realtors, Reside Architecture, Brand Culture, and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce came out to help with the care packages and to learn along with the Club Kids.

To wrap up the insightful evening participants pulled out more blankets and watched “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will and Jayden Smith. The movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner , a father who struggled to protect his son from the realities of homelessness they experience after a family crisis.  By 10 p.m. as the movie ended, participants were grateful for the shared experience . . . and to be able to head to their own homes for the night.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty 1.35 million children are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (2007). “The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has always offered a safe and affordable place for kids to discover their potential to ‘be great’ and do great things,” remarked Aaron Young, CEO of The Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club.  “I think it is important for our members, families and the community at large to understand more about this population and what we can do collectively to make a difference.”

See photos from the event on our Facebook page,
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=210691&id=157549157887&ref=mf

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