Wasteland: There’s Something Beautiful About This Pain
April 6, 2017
January 10, 2019
BEING WITH AT RISK YOUTH
December 15, 2018
This weekend we are learning about solidarity from those who are walking with young people in our city who don’t have homes. Meet Amy & Jennifer, who started an organization called Howard’s Heart. We also hear from our good friend and faithful member of our community Val, who has been deep in this work for many years in our city.
Howard's Heart started 11 months ago as an answer to the need for support of teens in foster care that we saw in our community. After doing an impromptu gift drive for teens last December, we spoke with caseworkers and learned that teens and youth ages 13-21 in foster care are chronically under-served by the community around them. We decided that we could use the momentum started with our gift drive and launch an organization that works to provide opportunities, meet tangible needs, and even fulfill some special requests for foster teens in Multnomah County. We run a backpack drive program and a holiday drive program yearly, and a continuous essentials program where we keep items such as hygiene products and basic school supplies stocked in DHS offices based on what the caseworkers and teens are telling us they need. We consider the integrity of our teens to be the highest priority, and as such never assume we know what they need; instead, we are asking weekly how we can help, where the gaps are, and what teens need in this moment that will help them become stable and successful. We have long term goals such as providing orthodontia funding and computers to every teen in care, but for now are starting at the beginning by making sure they have tools for school, some holiday magic, and a place to ask for help when they need it.
Amy is a graduate of the Family and Human Services program at the University of Oregon. Since graduating she’s worked for DHS as a young children's permanency caseworker and visit supervisor from 2009-2014, as intake staff and supervision for CASA. In 2013 she began spearheading a holiday drive for permanency units at the Alberta child welfare office, providing gifts to over 200 children. These drives would prove to become the foundation for Howard's Heart. A wearer of many hats, Amy is also a published author, a dedicated Auntie, and loving friend and caregiver to many.
Jennifer is a graduate of Pacific University Exercise Science program, specializing in Integrated Physiology. Jennifer brings over 5 years experience staffing, scheduling, planning, and coordinating various physical rehabilitation programs for Portland hospitals. A born organizer and former professional caterer, she's been planning and executing events large and small since 2003. On a normal day Jennifer can be found cooking, baking, and taking long forest walks with her son.