Petra’s Story

I was raised by a single mother in a very poor household in Portland, Oregon. My mother struggled with extreme depression and anxiety, which I later suffered from as well. I was 10 years old and my mother was consistently faced with suicidal thoughts. She remarried when I was 15, but it wasn’t the fairy tale ending that we both had hoped for. Her newfound love turned out to be violent. I ended up dropping out of high school and was eventually out on the streets abusing drugs. This life was hard, but I felt as if I had no hope for any happiness left. It wasn’t until I found my best friend dead from a drug overdose that something in me clicked. I decided to take a Greyhound bus to California and change my life.

I initially went to My Friend’s Place for food, but they also gave me hope that I hadn’t felt in so many years. Everybody there was so positive. I loved all the staff and I always felt welcome. Soon, I had a roof over my head and my boyfriend and I found out that we were pregnant. We got married and had our son, Zaidik, who was the solidifying factor in our newfound life. When we had our child, My Friend’s Place helped us to feel like we were a part of society again. The team at My Friend’s Place kept us out of trouble and encouraged us to go to school, and they were a big part of us going back to college.We continued to attend the parenting group at My Friend’s Place. It was just like having another family. I remember celebrating Christmas at My Friend’s Place. They even had Santa! I loved that because we had such a bond with the staff and the other parents in the parenting group, so when we got to celebrate Christmas, and all of our kids were so excited to see Santa Claus together, it solidified that bond. It was really special. We still have that photo with Santa in the frame that we made.

We met life-long friends in the parenting group. It was neat because a lot of them had been through the same experiences and they were young parents trying to grow in the same ways that we were. We’re still really close with one of the families from our parenting group, and it’s nice to see us all growing.

Fast forward 10 years, and my husband and I have an amazing 9-year-old son. I am a junior in college pursuing a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies and my husband is pursuing a BA in Anthropology. I choose to major in Gender and Women’s Studies because I have seen first hand the struggles we face as women. I have also seen how race, class, sexuality, and gender can affect one’s position in the world and I want to bring these understandings into the youth homelessness epidemic because everyone deserves a chance to find happiness and success.

Even after being clean for more than 10 years, my son is my biggest achievement. Knowing that he doesn’t struggle with the same depression and self-doubt that I always did is what makes me proud because I never want him to have to go though the same trauma that I did in order for him to find his path in life. My goal for the future is to work with disadvantaged youth. I want them to know that they have hope for a greater future, one that they may not have ever expected. We really can’t believe how far we’ve come. It just took a couple of people to really care about us, and now we’re doing things I didn’t even think were possible.

What people should know about My Friend’s Place is just what an impact it really makes on young people. Especially if they have dealt with homelessness, for young people who might be lacking self-esteem or have issues with self-worth—to know that people have hope for them and care about them is life changing.

Petra,
My Friend’s Place Alumna


Petra is right—connection and community are vitally important. They are at the heart of what we do for young people every day at My Friend’s Place, and what our young people do for each other. We know that youth first come to My Friend’s Place for food, showers and clothing, but it is connection and community that keep them coming back and is life changing. There is deep comfort in feeling cared for, loved and supported. Knowing that there is a place where you are accepted, valued and uplifted is what gives a young person a sense of belonging and hope for the future. As our community, you make this place for transformation possible. You believe in the potential of our youth and invest in their futures so that, no matter where they have come from, the systems or adults that have failed them or the traumas they have experienced in the past, they can find community and connection here at My Friend’s Place. With your support, we can continue strengthening and nourishing this community as we all work together to end youth homelessness.

In community,
Erin Casey, LCSW
Director of Programs


Thanks to the support of the My Friend’s Place Board of Directors and generous community leaders, your gift will be TRIPLED, up to $150,000! Only contributions made through December 31 will be matched, so please consider making a gift to bring three times the connection and community to our young people today!

Triple Your Impact Today!

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My Friend’s Place 2018 Holiday Wish List

 

 

 

 

 

Anchor

As you can imagine, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time for young people experiencing homelessness. While many in the community are hosting holiday parties with friends and family or purchasing gifts for loved ones, many of our youth experience a profound sense of disconnection during the holidays. Seeking to brighten the season for our youth, My Friend’s Place hosts a special holiday celebration each December where 250 of our young people experiencing homelessness can come together with our staff, volunteers and community to enjoy a special meal, share in a festive celebration and receive some special holiday gifts and love. For many of our young people, these gifts of cold weather supplies and small comforts, such as a sleeping bag, a hoodie or a pair of headphones, will be the only holiday gifts that a youth will receive this year, and will bring much comfort to a young person during the holiday season and into the new year. Can you help us to make this sweet holiday celebration extra special for our young people this year?

There are many ways that you can participate, from contributing items from the gift wish list below to sponsoring a holiday gift drive or hosting a giving tree at your work, community center or business. We can provide you with all the supplies and materials you will need, and we can help with pick up/delivery of the gifts, too! This year, we are requesting that all gifts be at My Friend’s Place By Tuesday December 11 for Santa to distribute to youth at our Youth Holiday Celebration on Friday, December 14.

  • Sleeping Bags
  • Earbuds/Headphones
  • $10 Gift Card for Groceries—Target, Food 4 Less, Vons
  • $10 Gift Card for Food—Subway, 7/11, Starbucks
  • Movie Tickets—ArcLight, AMC, Regal
  • Beanies, Scarves, and Gloves
  • Hoodies—Adult Sizes (Small-XXXL)

All new, unwrapped gifts must be delivered or shipped to My Friend’s Place by Tuesday, December 11 for our youth to receive at the Holiday Party on Friday, December 14. For information on hosting a drive, becoming a holiday sponsor, or to schedule a drop off, please contact Rachel Sanchez.

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Run the LA Marathon to Help Homeless Youth

My Friend's Place LA Marathon

Want to join the other 1 percent?

Did you know only 1 percent of the population will run a marathon in their lifetime? Sure, completing 26.2 miles may not sound like a Sunday Funday to everyone, but whether you’re a closeted runner, half-marathon hero or someone who has always dreamed of crossing that item off your bucket list, 2019 may just be the year for you because…

My Friend’s Place is running in the L.A. Marathon! And we want YOU to join us!

We’re thrilled to announce that My Friend’s Place has been selected as an official charity team for the 2019 Skechers Performance L.A. Marathon, taking over the city on March 24, 2019. We’ll be pounding the pavement from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica in a collective effort to raise support and awareness for youth experiencing homelessness. A number of My Friend’s Place staff, board members and volunteers have already committed to joining Team MFP, and you can as well with just three easy steps:

Step 1:
E-mail Jeff Katz, Associate Director of Development, at jkatz@myfriendsplace.org and let him know you’re ready to run! We’ll provide you with our team registration code, so don’t register for the marathon before connecting with Jeff.

Step 2:
Create your Crowdrise fundraising page at our official Team MFP page. All members of Team MFP are asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 each in support of services and programming at My Friend’s Place.

Step 3:
Tell everyone you know that you’re not only running a marathon, but you’re doing it for a great cause! Share your Crowdrise page with friends, family, co-workers, social media strangers, and encourage them to join you in your commitment to support youth experiencing homelessness. New to fundraising? No problem! The My Friend’s Place Development team is here to help and encourage you along the way.

In addition to helping our youth build lives of stability and self-sufficiency, joining Team MFP comes with other awesome benefits, including:

• Complementary race registration • Group training runs • Team MFP gear
• Fundraising incentives • Pre-race team dinner and more!

So, what are you waiting for?! Join the other 1 percent and be #MFPepic with us as we run to end youth homelessness!

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Make a Difference This Socktober

SOCKS. A clothing item that most of us don’t give a second thought to on a daily basis, but one that is always at the top of the wish list for homeless youth.  SOCKS are one of the items most requested by the young people experiencing homelessness who access services at My Friend’s Place.

On average, My Friend’s Place serves 82 young people experiencing homelessness each day through our Safe Haven Program, and each young person visiting the Safe Haven is provided a new pair of SOCKS and underwear on each visit. For our youth, receiving a fresh, new pair of SOCKS goes beyond making a fashion statement; in fact, new clean SOCKS are key to supporting the health, wellness and hygiene of our youth. Being without clean SOCKS, especially during the colder and wetter months, can lead to discomfort and foot ailments, especially when youth are travelling around the city primarily by foot and have extremely limited or no access to laundry facilities.

What’s more, providing a young person experiencing homelessness with a new pair of SOCKS can help a youth to feel cared for, and can help staff and volunteers to build rapport and trust with youth. Through the provision of SOCKS and other basic needs in a safe and welcoming space, our staff and volunteers take the first steps to build trust with youth, encouraging young people to identify and share their needs and to take steps toward wellness that might include accessing employment-readiness programming or intensive case management services including crisis stabilization, linkages to health and mental health services, housing, and other services supporting stability and self sufficiency.

This October, My Friend’s Place is launching SOCKTOBER to bring our community together to ensure that we will have a steady supply of socks for our youth in the coming months. With young people visiting My Friend’s Place more than 20,000 times this year, we need your help to ensure that we have enough SOCKS to meet our young people’s needs! Our goal this year is to collect 5,000 SOCKS, which would ensure that we have enough SOCKS for our youth for at least the next 3 months.

New and packaged SOCKS in adult sizes, both tall and short, are most needed. SOCKS may be dropped off at My Friend’s Place Monday – Thursday 9am to 5:30pm or Friday 8am to 5pm. If you are not able to get to My Friend’s Place, please consider sending socks to My Friend’s Place via our Amazon Wish List.

If you would prefer to contribute a financial gift to underwrite the purchase of socks for our youth, please visit our website and provide a note that your gift is in support of SOCKTOBER. Any donation amount is greatly appreciated. Each $1 donation can provide a brand new pair of socks to a young person experiencing homelessness this year.

For more information about SOCKTOBER or My Friend’s Place, please contact Rachel Sanchez at rsanchez@myfriendsplace.org or call 323-908-0011 ext. 109.

Join us in making Socktober a sock-cess!

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“Keep It Brief” Underwear Campaign

This August, we invite you to “Keep It Brief!” Did you know that My Friend’s Place distributes 18,000+ pairs of underwear annually to the young people we serve? Help us support this basic need by participating in our “Keep It Brief” campaign! Consider shopping our Amazon Wish List and/or hosting a drive to collect briefs, boxers, sports bras and other underwear items with your coworkers, classmates, or family and friends. For more information, or to schedule a drop off, contact Olivia Harrigan at 323-908-0011 ext 124 or oharrigian@myfriendsplace.org.

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