On Wednesday, February 22nd, a group of Bay Area EPIPers went to The Mission to learn more about At The Crossroads, a nonprofit working to help homeless youth who don’t access traditional services and are disconnected from any type of ongoing support. They aim to remove common barriers to service by bringing counselors to their client base- directly onto the streets- and shaping support services around the needs of each individual client. In addition to one-on-one counseling at a location of the homeless youth’s choosing, they provide food boxes, new clothes and hygiene supplies. As well, they connect youth with other traditional service providers. For most of the youth that ATC have served, healthy and trusting relationships with an adult figure are a rarity, and ATC staff strive to combat this by making sure that counselors are a consistent and stable figure in the youth’s lives. In fact, once ATC makes contact with a youth, they will continue supporting their clients for as long as the youth want help, often working with them well into their twenties. Their goal is to help homeless youth not just make positive changes in their lives, but maintain them as well.
ATC operates out of a space that seemed like a decent size. However, once we learned how much they accomplish from this home base, we were astonished. In addition to an office space, there was also a clothing room where clients can pick out new clothes each week, as well as a room where food boxes are prepared and hygiene kits are pulled together. Most of the supplies that ATC give out to their clients are new because, as Rob Gitin, Executive Director says, “they’re worth it”.
After hearing about the history and amazing work of ATC, we spent some time preparing snack bags, cleaning messenger bags, and sorting hygiene items. We later learned from Gitin that 14 additional youth were able to be served because of our volunteering!
If you want to help, but weren’t able to make it to this event, please consider ‘liking’ Ike’s Sandwiches on Facebook. If Ike’s get 20,000 likes, they’ll provide sandwiches to At the Crossroads clients free for three months. If they get 30,000 likes, they’ll provide sandwiches to At the Crossroads clients for 1 YEAR! You can learn more at: http://atthecrossroads.org/2012/03/ikes-place-and-atc-teaming-up-to-help-homeless-youth/