What a joy it is that The Ground Floor is open and serving young people! Every day at the church, our staff excitedly watches from afar as young people find their way to the space. We know they are accessing food, clothing, warm showers and quiet places to rest, and we know that they are also receiving high quality care from well-trained staff and volunteers, connecting them with mental health care, housing resources, vocational training and more. It was a joy to learn that in the third week of operating, The Ground Floor staff has already connected one young person with housing, and we expect another of those young people to be housed later this week! And, the program is really growing — there were about a half-dozen youth that used the services on the first day of the program a couple of weeks ago, and the team saw about twenty young people in one day on the third week of the program! Hooray and hallelujah!
I want to take this opportunity to share some news and ideas about how our relationship with The Ground Floor will develop going forward. First off, thank you to everyone who has donated supplies to help The Ground Floor succeed! Going forward, there’ll be a lot of opportunities for us to collect and donate items to support young people experiencing homelessness in our community. Please watch the church newsletter, emails, and announcements for particular needs. The staff has promised to share requests with us whenever they are running low on important items! In the meantime, all in-kind donations (aka “stuff donations”) for The Ground Floor and for the rest of Northwest Youth Services programs will be received at their Business Office, which is currently in the Herald Building downtown. Their staff member Lisa Jones is coordinating all of these donations: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 360-734-9862, ext. 154. We want to make sure donations get to where they are most needed, and we also want to make sure that youth using The Ground Floor have the privacy and space they need.
Some of you attended the first volunteer training for The Ground Floor on Presidents’ Day — thanks for doing that! Right now, I’ve heard that the predominant volunteer needs in the space are for folks to help sort donations and for folks to help with clean-up, etc, after the program closes for the day. If you are interested in getting involved, let me know, and I can make sure you receive a volunteer application. And don’t worry, The Ground Floor folks will let us know when they need more volunteers, or volunteers with a certain skillset! They know where to find us as their program grows.
And, as I mentioned in worship a couple of weeks ago, this is now a very exciting time in the life of our relationship with The Ground Floor. The space is built, the program is open, and young people are making it their own! It’s a lot like when parents drop off a young person at college. We need to celebrate them, we want to keep in touch, but we also need to give them some room to learn and grow! To that end, if you’re part of a group or team that needs to access The Ground Floor’s space, please let me know. I can work with their Coordinator to find ways to do that which are minimally disruptive to the youth and their work.
As we go forward, we know it’s important that a team of folks works to help keep our relationship with Northwest Youth Services strong. That’s why Council has formed The Ground Floor Advisory Committee. On the church end, you can feel free to talk to me, Dick Cathell, or Bill Fox when you have questions or ideas about The Ground Floor! We’ll continue to work closely with Emerson McCuin, the Ground Floor Coordinator, Robin Myers, the Northwest Youth Services Program Director, and the youth who will serve on that team as challenges and opportunities arise!
Oh, and one more thing to be aware of: if you live near The Ground Floor, or know others who do, and would like to be a part of a special update conversation with neighbors, please spread the word- we’ll be hosting a meeting for neighbors on Monday, April 1 at 6:00 pm. Everybody’s invited to come by The Ground Floor, hear about how things are going, and share any questions or concerns that they have with staff.
Again: I am so excited to bring you some good news about The Ground Floor, and I think we’ll have a lot more going forward. Please continue to hold The Ground Floor, their staff, volunteers, and youth in your prayers, and let me know if you’d like particular areas to pray on. There will be a lot of growth, both for the program and for our congregation, in the months and years to come, and I am so glad to be in this deeply-rooted community as we grow together!