“A hot meal, a place to relax and a chance to meet new people. There are no strings, no questions, no judging, no preaching, no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons, and no drama.”
— HomePlate Youth Services website
Terra is the Development Director for Home Plate Youth Services, a non-profit here in the Portland and Beaverton area that helps teens and young adults who are in danger of falling through the cracks. Last year they served almost 1000 kids.
Falling through the cracks may mean couch surfing in the suburbs or living on the streets in the city. It may mean estrangement from your family. It may mean that getting to school, or even just getting a meal means a walk of several miles. It might mean bringing along your two-year-old daughter with you. It might mean you don’t have an identification card or a job. It might mean a toothache is life threatening or a shower is a rare luxury.
Falling through the cracks may mean many things, perhaps none so important as no one to believe in you.
Terra works with these kids. Kids that society may want to ignore, or disparage, but still kids with hopes and dreams. Even if they have kids of their own.
Terra knows their pain … and their opportunity.
That’s because Terra moved out of her house at age 16 and into her own apartment. In spite of that, she continued to struggle to keep up her grades and take classes. Eventually, she got degrees in both Social Work and Sociology from Pacific University. From there she landed a job at a non-profit in downtown Portland, learning first hand how good organizations with a good mission fail because they couldn’t find a way to measure what they did. From there, thanks to a big boost from her boss, and many hours of volunteering, she landed a job as the Development Director for Home Plate. A success by any measure.
But the thing that Terra said pulled her through was a huge support network of caring people. People who believed in her.
Growing up is tough enough. It may feel next to impossible if you feel you have no where to turn, no one who’ll listen, and no one who cares for you.
But thanks to Terra, and the other folks with big hearts at HomePlate, I hope there are a few kids couch surfing tonight who know there is someone out there who believes in them.
Today’s gift of time … Met with Terra as part of a domestic giving project research for a non-profit organization. She was kind enough to help me better understand the needs of at-risk kids in our neighborhoods.
Note – I’ll be out of Internet range for the next couple days. Posts should resume again Sunday or Monday.