Thanks to the 80 or so of you who came out for our planning kick-off meeting on Friday. You came from lots of different parts of our community—youth, K-12 schools, colleges, state agencies, community organizations, early childhood educators, advocates, police, service providers, volunteers, employment providers, and municipalities. Some of you helped put our YHDP application together and some are new partners. All together, this is certainly a group that can get things done!
The meeting was a chance to review where we’ve been, talk about what it means to be a YHDP site, think about why we are doing this work, and hear from young people about their dreams and their partnership with us in this work.
One of our activities was each of us rreflecting on why this work is important. Here’s some of what you said:
I am passionate about this work because I want teens and young adults to have every opportunity to securely grow in their light and passion.
This work is important because it’s outrageous to think of a youth or young adult without stable housing.
I am passionate about this work because a collaboration as large and broad as this has the potential to make a significant impact. This age and time is a key juncture for youth and young adults and support is crucial.
Many comments reflect the need for us to take a system approach, with strong partnerships across the many people and agencies in the room.
Defining Our Community Vision
As we begin developing our coordinated community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness, we’ll be defining our vision. The comments about the importance of this work already begin to point to what our vision will encompass. Here’s a visual representation of the words that came up most in all of your comments:
A steering committee has been guiding this planning process—many of whom spoke at Friday’s meeting. This committee will take a first turn at crafting your words into a community vision that we’ll share back with you for feedback and further refinement.
Upcoming Planning Sessions and Meetings
We have three upcoming planning sessions, and we hope that you will join one or more sessions to work on creating our community plan. Here are the topics, dates and locatiions:
HOUSING: November 8, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, UMass Springfield, Tower Square, 1500 Main St., Springfield
PERMANENT CONNECTIONS, November 22, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge St., Springfield
EDUCATION/EMPLOYMENT, December 13, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, The Innovation Center, 276 Bridge St., Springfield
In addition to these planning sessions, we are scheduling meetings to explore various topics and subpopulations in more depth. These will be announced on this blog. A next one that is coming up is a focused conversation about youth and human trafficking, which will take place at the meeting of the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee of the Western Mass Network to End Homelessness. That meeting will be Oct. 24, 9:30-11 am at Holyoke Community College, Kittredge Center, Room 303.
The next Youth Action Board (YAB) meeting will be Thursday, October 24, 4-5 pm at the Imppact Center, 41 Taylor St., Springfield. (This one is for youth and young adults only.)