To my friends and neighbors in British Columbia:
At this time when world economies are in free-fall and each of us has probably taken a financial hit, this is actually the time that aid organizations in our community need your help the most. Most have no margin for error. No financial cushion. Imagine your own predicament if your cushion (equity, credit line, 401-K, home) suddenly vanished.
As I continue to search for my own employment, I have been fund-raising for Amy’s Place in Bellingham, Washington --- a youth drop-in center that caters to 11-21 year-olds in crisis. Now Amy’s Place is in trouble and we urgently need donations to remain open. We simply do not have enough on-going income stream to stay open until Christmas and beyond. Since opening in December 2006, and 3,500 visits later, Amy’s Place has assisted 600+ individual young people.
Amy’s Place is the only drop-in center in Whatcom County specifically for street youth. We also cater to Victoria and Vancouver youth when they visit Northwest Washington. There continues to be a serious lack of comprehensive services for this vulnerable population. We are to help all Cascadia youth!
Director Heidi Unick is a Cascadia / lower mainland native. Some of you may even know her or her two daughters that currently reside in Bellingham, Washington. If you don’t already know your geography, Bellingham is geo-physically a part of the Frasier River delta, regardless of where the geo-political boundary (49th parallel) may lie.
Yesterday, the Friday after “American” Thanksgiving, about 15 of Amy’s Center youth and adult chaperones were out on the Guide Meridian at Bellis Fair mall as part of a “Bucket Brigade” doing their part seeking donations. And we were out there again today. Bellingham Herald article … http://www.bellinghamherald.com/102/story/695167.html
Several of our youth visit Vancouver, Whistler and Baja when they have money to visit relatives or recreate. And I know that Vancouver is a big city with many of its own housing issues. I've found our BC neighbors to be most generous to other causes when visiting us down here in the States. And we do welcome British Columbia youth, too!
Today I count my own blessings at being able to look beyond my own wants and needs and have you as my friends and neighbors to make this humble request. At a time when I see so much affluence in BC and Washington, I am also seemly surrounded by a sea of people “on the edge” (stop by any soup kitchen any weekday at noon or the any food bank mid-morning in either Bellingham or Vancouver). You can choose to “see” or ignore what is truth in our communities. Border or not! I choose to see it and help as best I can.
One sample letter (of many dozen) is attached. PLEASE WATCH this brief, un-rehearsed low-resolution video by clicking on this link (I don't want to attach a video & clog your e-mail box). High-res version (large file).
The loss of our youth, for lack of a safe place to “hang out,” seek counsel and stay away from bad influences is a terrible waste. It saddens me when we look the other way and simply write a person off because of a nose ring or green hair. Boredom and joblessness inevitably lead to mischief, addiction and a non-taxpaying citizen.
To keep this effort going and give kids a chance to succeed, I am asking you today to consider a generous donation to Amy’s Place for Youth. Amy’s recently moved to a new location, operating on a shoestring budget. I invite you to read about the details yourself --- essentially Amy’s requires about $1,000 per week to operate this safe haven for 30+ youth each week … http://www.amysplaceforyouth.org … including take-home food for families and siblings.
I hope this note finds you in good health and in good spirit and that your Thanksgiving was joyous. And if you’ve read this note all the way to the end, thank you!
Your friend and neighbor-Andrew