Posts Tagged ‘homeless youth’

Little-Known “Time” Volunteer Gigs and Changing Clocks

black and white silhouette clock face with Roman numeralsThere are folks who are the polar opposite from me in this, but for me, the “Spring Forward” clock shift is my favorite time of year with longer days and childhood permissions when my curfew was when the streetlights came on, to go back out and play after dinner. This “Fall Back” resetting of the clocks couldn’t be more miserable. It has been a heavy-on-my-heart day for as long as I can remember. Darker earlier, playtime cut short–nothing good about that, and the one extra hour of sleep is poor compensation.

However, to mark the shift in our clocks, here are a couple of clock-themed volunteer opportunities I found:

The National Watch and Clock Museum, “America’s Largest Timekeeping Museum” in Columbia, Pennsylvania, depends on the kindness of volunteers to bolster projects in their library and archives, collections management, education, exhibits, and publications.

Northern Virginia Family Service, in runs charitable thrift shops called Clock Tower Shops in Centreville and Falls Church, Virginia. Volunteers (for this organization dedicated to providing early childhood care, foster care services, health & mental health, intervention & prevention, housing & hunger, and legal & employment counseling) help sort and organize donations, ensure the shopping area is organized and that items are displayed in their proper place, and assist with customers’ questions and purchases.

In Brighton and Hove in the UK, The Clock Tower Sanctuary runs volunteer-supported programs for homeless youth. Find out how to pitch in here.

Clocktower Productions in lower Manhattan was launched by MoMA in the 1970s as a museum radio station, and now they produce multimedia art projects all around New York. They occasionally put out calls for volunteers to help run this vibrant, forward-thinking arts agency.

Willard House and Clock Museum in North Grafton, Massachusetts, has plenty of volunteer positions, pitching in wit everything from carpentry to guest relations, flower arranging, newsletter, and computer work.

The American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, needs volunteer tour guides and ambassadors (as well as summertime gardener helpers).

Now…any of you…once you’ve gotten in the groove of your new time-focused volunteering…would you please make the sun stay up later each day? I’d really appreciate it!

PS: Replace your smoke detector batteries when you re-set your clocks this weekend!

Ricky’s Revolution: Monkeys Saving Us



My camp name at Champ Camp is “Monkey” and for most of my interactions with people there and on facebook and texts throughout the year, that is the only name several people know. It’s a pretty good camp name–it allows for lots of accessorizing with monkey t-shirts, banana themes, monkey toys for the cabin, etc. Because of it, my eyes are always peeled for monkey things…so it is not a huge surprise that I would be so enamored of Ricky’s Revolution, a charitable organization that is helping runaway and homeless youth…with Ricky…a monkey.

Ricky is a stuffed monkey that has life saving emergency phone numbers embroidered on his arms. These numbers are for Rape Crisis; National Organization of Rape, Incest and Abuse; Domestic Violence Hotline; Runaway Hotline; and Emergency Shelter Hotlines. Volunteers across the country form “shelter teams” and go to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, etc to deliver these little bundles of comfort and love (and there is a big need for volunteers, so find out more!). For a kid living on the street or on the run from someone and staying in a shelter…the teddy bear-like comfort of a stuffed animal friend is a big deal, and the fact that Ricky also gives you tangible access to resources if you need them, makes him function as a double whammy of compassion.

The founder of the organization was a runaway teen, and she carried a stuffed monkey she’d named Ricky when she was on the streets. The comfort of her friend in the face of a brutal abduction and rape, and the ensuing spiral into despair, led her, as an adult, to recognize how one small token can mean the world to an individual. Get on board with Ricky’s Revolution, support, donate, volunteer–help make young people fighting against the odds know they’re not in it alone.

Monkeys will save the world if you let us!

40 to None: Cyndi Lauper Commited to LGBT Youth

Cyndi Lauper is such a tireless champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth–her work through her True Colors Fund, her audacious Give a Damn campaign, the NY home for homeless youth she founded, and her new organization Forty to None are all incredibly inspirational. In America, estimates range from 600,000 to 1.5 million homeless minors living on our streets and in shelters, and up to 40% of those identify as gay or transgender. Queer young people are exponentially more likely to attempt/succeed committing suicide, and, of course, bullying is off the charts. If your brain can stretch to imagine the hell of being a targeted young person, then add to that the weight of having been kicked out of your home, ostracized, possibly excommunicated from your place of worship, or voluntarily running away from home and unbearable situations, your stretched brain is going to hurt. Now imagine living it 24/7.

The Forty to None Project is the first national program exclusively dedicated to bringing an end to the epidemic of homelessness among LGBT youth–bringing that astronomical and unacceptable percentage from 40 percent, to none. The project is a newborn, but has huge and lofty goals in the areas of education, advocacy, empowerment, capacity building, and inclusion. Get yourself educated, get involved, and get kids off the streets. There are no red/blue divisions on this issue, no donkeys and elephants, just humanity, uniting us all.

True Colors Home

photo: "Bring Ya To The Brink"

Cyndi Lauper is a hero. She has, for a long time, been a real champion of equality. Her True Colors Tour was a series of concerts with amazing special guests to many venues to raise awareness for LGBT equality. She just recently launched a new initiative, the Give a Damn Campaign, for everyone who cares about equality, but especially straight people who know what’s right, and that there is a lot of work for us all to make it right. Celebs and the rest of us, along with Cyndi, take on issues like marriage equality, youth homelessness, hate crimes, immigration, older adults, and more. Go to to get involved.

Now, Cyndi is launching even further into orbit (and earning her wings in a big way) as she has announced that in 2011, she will be opening the True Colors Residence, a live-in center/shelter for homeless LGBT young people, in Harlem. Specifically intended for young adults who have been kicked out of their family homes or have run away from unlivable conditions because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, the home will have 30 studio apartments, a computer room, library, and shared space. With thousands of homeless LGBT youth in New York, and exponentially more throughout the nation…around the world…forward momentum like this is huge.

Teens for Jeans

Getting kids motivated to reach out and be bigger than they are can be quite simple, and even financially rewarding. Doing good for others can be something more than selfless. The DO Something organization, in a win/win set up with teenagers, has created the “Teens for Jeans” program in partnership with Aéropostale stores. Teens donate their used jeans and other wearable clothing at Aéropostale shops, receive a 25% discount on new items in the store, and the store gets the used clothing to homeless teenagers all around the country. The jeans drive runs through Valentine’s Day, and the first 100,000 pairs of jeans are already earmarked for distribution to Haiti.

Easy. Win/Win. ‘Nuf said.

People’s Prince

If you’re in the Northeast, you are shivering right about now. It is wicked cold. Shelters open and are full to capacity on nights like these, for those without homes in which to hunker down, but there are never enough beds or floor space and some folks are, literally, left out in the cold.

Prince William recognizes this issue in the U.K., and recently spent a cold December night sleeping on a cardboard box, out on the street, to bring attention and deeper understanding to the problem of homeless youth on the streets of London and other British cities. Centrepoint is the English charity trying to solve the issue of homelessness among young people. For four decades, the organization has been battling back the ravages of involuntary outside life…unavoidable hardships for those who “sleep rough.”

William is a patron and longtime supporter of Centrepoint’s work, so this wasn’t merely a publicity stunt. Of his bitterly cold night, William said, “I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London’s streets night after night. Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown cause people to become and then stay homeless. Centrepoint’s work – along with many other organizations’—in tackling these fundamental causes—is desperately important if we are ever to end homelessness in this country. I hope that by deepening my understanding of the issue, I can help do my bit to help the most vulnerable on our streets.”

Centrepoint has helped over 70,000 homeless young people in their long run. Is there an organization, near where you live or where you’ll travel on your next trip, that you can help? Serving at a kitchen, handing out coats or blankets, donating warm clothing and other necessities…it’s a great way to launch into the New Year.

Run Forrest Run

tellmanYou can’t ignore the similarities between Tellman Knudson and a certain film character that recognized that life is like a box of chocolates. And Tellman plays up the parallels to the hilt. His long straggly hair blows behind him as he runs across the United States from Manhattan to Santa Monica.

Tellman started his trek September 9…and the kicker here, is he’s doing the entire run barefoot. Ouch. When he completes his run in 99-ish days, he will be the first to do this, following Route 66 much of the way,  in bare feet. His back story is also particularly Forrest Gumpesque as Tellman fought his ADHD and physical difficulties as a youth by immersing himself in running to and from school 7 miles each way and finding solace in his footsteps.

The goal here is not to just cross the country sans shoes, but to use the attention he gets to raise donations for homeless youth. Each year, over two million young people, ages 12-24, will experience a period of homelessness. Over 100,000 American youth will sleep outside for six months or more. Tellman is bringing awareness and funds to organizations specifically focused on homeless youth, including Covenant House.

There’s a GPS system strapped to Tellman each day so you can follow his progress live, read his irreverent blog postings, find out more about him and the journey–and donate for youth.