Sep 19, 2016

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser cut the ribbon!

Jilcana speaking to the celebration attendees.
Jilcana speaking to the celebration attendees.

Dear Friend,

Recently, LAYC won the IKEA Life Improvement Challenge and received $8,500 worth of goods and services to build “Hope's Closet,” a place with clothing and supplies for homeless and runaway youth.

LAYC staff bring youth into our drop-in center through the street outreach program to receive services, get connected with resources, and now, to access Hope’s Closet. Hope's Closet will also offer day lockers for youth to store their belongings while they use the drop-in center’s other facilities, which include showers, washers and dryers, nap rooms, kitchen and dining room, computer lab, and private counseling rooms.

To celebrate the opening, LAYC hosted a celebration with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Director of Department of Human Services Laura Zeiliger, IKEA USA Store Manger Frank Briel, DC Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs Director Jackie Reyes, Claudia Barahona of Councilmember Brianne Nadeau's office, and LAYC staff and volunteers who serve our homeless youth. Mayor Bowser even cut the ribbon!

At the event, one of LAYC’s youth, Jilcana, spoke about her experience with LAYC’s services when she was experiencing homelessness. Her speech is reprinted here:

Hi. My name is Jilcana and I am a single mother of a two-year-old son, Lawrence Jr., and a six-month-old daughter, Isabella.

When I first came to the LAYC drop-in center, I was struggling with my then one-year-old son and pregnant with my daughter. I was homeless and had run out of hope because every other agency that I had reached out to for help had basically just turned me away. Sometimes I would go and wait for hours only to be told that I wasn’t eligible for that certain program. I never understood why a single mom with another child on the way would not be eligible.

However, when I first arrived here at LAYC, I was greeted warmly and felt welcomed. After all that I had already been through and after I had almost given up complete hope, I finally started to see a little light at the end of the dark tunnel. I was offered food to eat, told that I could do my laundry here and could even shower here if I needed to. That felt so great to hear because those were some of the issues that I had been worrying about the most, being a homeless mom.

I was immediately given resources that I had never heard of before and made to feel like my family and I really mattered to someone.

I am so appreciative for everything that LAYC and the staff here at the Drop-In Center has done for me. If it wasn’t for them, I really don’t know where I’d be at this point of my life right now, but I do sincerely believe that my life would not be looking up like it is now. I am now in my own apartment, thanks to the LAYC Hope’s House Program, with my two children and I am hopeful that by being back in school and having my kids enrolled in daycare, I will be able to grow and better prepare to raise my kids in a more positive environment than what it could have been like had it not been for LAYC.

Now, please join us for the ribbon cutting for our new space, Hope’s Closet.”

Thank you so much for your support of our services to homeless youth. It is because of donors like you and IKEA that we can continue to serve DC’s most vulnerable youth.

 

Gracias,

Lori

Hope's Closet, filled with supplies for youth.
Hope's Closet, filled with supplies for youth.
Mayor Bowser cutting the ceremonial ribbon!
Mayor Bowser cutting the ceremonial ribbon!
Aug 23, 2016

Meet Vanessa

THP student Vanessa at her DC HAPP internship.
THP student Vanessa at her DC HAPP internship.

Dear Friend,

LAYC’s Teen Health Promoters (THP) program affords our amazing youth some incredible internship experiences. See below for a letter from THP participant Vanessa, on THP and her internships:

"THP has been a very fun and motivational experience for me during the course of the 2015 - 2016 school year. In this program, I was able to learn new things that I didn’t know before on different health topics such as STI, HIV, abstinence, sex abuse, vital signs, fitness, and nutrition. I also got a chance to practice performing CPR. In addition, I was surrounded by my peers who were like my brothers and sisters to me because they taught me a lot and they wanted to pursue a career in the health field just like me. THP not only gave me knowledge and motivation, but it also gave me an opportunity to work as an intern at George Washington University Hospital as well as join a summer program called DC Health and Academic Prep Program (DC HAPP).

During my internship at George Washington University Hospital, I was able to meet with health professionals that worked in different units in the hospital. These health professionals gave me tours of their units where they taught me about what goes on in the units, the medical equipment or rooms that they use, and how their daily routines work. I was also given an opportunity to talk to their patients as well as practice using basic medical equipment. This was a very interesting experience.

DC HAPP has been a very inspirational and enjoyable experience for me during the summer course. Various health professionals came to give a lecture on the health career that they work in, including a nurse, anesthesiologist, physical therapist, and pediatrician. These lectures gave me the determination that I needed to figure out what health career I wanted to pursue in the future. Furthermore, in DC HAPP, I was given the opportunity to get a real-life hands-on experience with different health skills, such as performing CPR again, intubation, suturing, and vital signs. I was also able to see and feel real body organs such as the heart and lungs. It was all a very exciting and fun. But above all of this, I got the chance to wear a White Coat which was an amazing thing because it made me feel like I was a real doctor (which I’m actually not). I would never ever forget the good times that I had in these programs because I have learned so much in such a short amount of time and done great things that others my age had never done before and I am so thankful and grateful to those who made THP possible for me and my peers to join this program. May God bless you all!!!"

Thanks so much for your support of Teen Health Promoters and youth like Vanessa. Our new crop of students will begin their THP journey in the next month! Please consider donating to support these youth. Just $45 outfits a young person like Vanessa with her own set of scrubs.

 

Gracias,

Lori

Students learning suturing.
Students learning suturing.
Vanessa and friend at their DC-HAPP internship.
Vanessa and friend at their DC-HAPP internship.
Jun 22, 2016

Meet Dennises

Dennises, happy after her experience at LAYC!
Dennises, happy after her experience at LAYC!

Dear Friend,

Happy Summer! Thank you for your continued support of LAYC’s Street Outreach Program. Please enjoy this story written by LAYC Youth Developer Jessica Hicks, about a favorite client of hers:

Dennises, 23, was kicked out of her home at age 20. With nowhere to go during the cold months she stayed in abandoned buildings and alleys. Luckily, she made contact with the Street Outreach Program during the summer of 2015. Growing up in Columbia Heights, it was important for Dennises to feel a sense of belonging so that she may be able reach her highest potential. After constantly being in and out of trouble, Dennises was able to take full control of her life. With hard work, persistence, she was able to secure transitional living, obtain a full time job and enroll into the LAYC Career Academy to pursue her dreams of becoming certified in Information Technology. She now thrives in her own apartment in northeastern DC. "Because of the staff at the Street Outreach Program, I was able to accomplish my goals," Dennises said as she smiled from ear to ear.

Through LAYC’s services, Dennises was connected to case management, safe housing, employment, and higher education. Just $50 can provide emergency shelter for a young person like Dennises. Your support can mean the difference between a tragedy and a bright future.

 

Gracias,

Lori

 
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