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Monday, November 4, 2013

Helping Homeless Teens in Marin County

It's such a luxury to be able to work and live in the beauty and abundance of Marin County.  At first glance, it often seems that all our teens are healthy, happy, high achieving, and well on their way to a bright future.  But if we really pay attention, we know that what is true for most is not necessarily true for all.  It can be easy for us to forget about those who don't have a life of plenty, and in fact, do not even have a family or a home to return to at night.
It is hard to even visualize what it must be like to be a homeless teen in Marin.  Can you imagine waking up every day:
  • Not knowing where you will be living
  • Feeling alone, lost, anxious, depressed, angry, and hopeless
  • With no medical or dental care
  • Mistrusting the systems and adults who haven't been there for you
  • With the stress of carrying all your personal items from one place to another
  • With no financial reserves for emergencies
  • Overwhelmed by lack of skills and resources to earn a living wage
These are the daily realities for a homeless teen!
Part of the beauty of Marin is the willingness of its residents to help others.  There are many organizations that help the homeless, but there is a very special organization called "Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity," or "AHO," which is dedicated to assisting Marin's homeless teens.
Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity started in November 2007, when Kevin Ippolito, age 22, Amy Phelan, age 23, and Mario Rangel, age 21, conceived of finding a way to "give back" for the help they had received.  AHO was created as a non-profit organization focused solely on providing a safety net of stable housing, guidance, and community connections for young adults, ages 16 to 25, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Marin County.  AHO is a relationship- and community-based model that engages youths who have been previously homeless in the solution as youth outreach advisors, peer mentors, program advisors, board members, and spokespersons of their experiences.
As superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District, I am aware of many helpful and well organized community agencies, but as I learn more about the work of AHO, I am in awe of its mission and its model to engage former homeless youths in the solution to help others.  If you would like to learn more about the work of Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity, visit their websitewww.ahoproject.org
For those of you who would like to see an example of the good work of this organization, there is an art show of AHO work that will be at the Corte Madera Community Center from November 10 through December 1.  Also, the whole community is invited to a reception at the Community Center hosted by the Corte Madera Lions Club on Friday, November 15, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.  I will certainly be there to meet some of the artists and learn more about Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity.  I hope you will join me in support of this fine organization.

What:      AHO Reception Hosted by the Corte Madera Lions Club
Where:    Corte Madera Community Center
When:     Friday, November 15, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

The majority of information included in this post is from the AHO website. 

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