Up & Out: Volunteering at New Avenues for Youth
As digital marketers, it can be easy to get stuck behind our screens and try to solve all problems from there. Oftentimes, this just isn’t realistic and we have to step away to see where to dive into the real world. The Upsource team has pledged to make community involvement and outreach a priority in 2017, and we kicked off our initiative in January with two trips to a wonderful local organization, New Avenues for Youth.
About New Avenues
New Avenues for Youth is a Portland nonprofit serving homeless and struggling young people aged 14-24. The organization was founded in 1997 as a community response to an ever increasing number of at-risk youth congregating in downtown Portland. They provide a safe, warm space for youth to come during the day to eat, seek shelter, access education and career resources, and learn self-sufficiency skills.
Helping Kids Eat
Volunteering in small teams of up to four, Upsource sent two groups over two Saturdays to prepare and serve the Saturday lunch visitors. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work cooking breakfast staples for 60-80 young people, with New Avenues staff giving us free rein of the kitchen. We also cleaned and served, giving us the opportunity to interact with the youth members present.
We spoke with many visitors, some of whom are the same ages as our younger team members. We asked them how they were doing and were touched by their gratitude and grace under trying circumstances. We heard stories of passion and involvement from the New Avenues staff, some of whom can personally relate to the kids we met. We left feeling grateful for our stable employment, humbled by the dedication of the staff, and awed by the optimism the young people possessed.