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BHS Working to Help the Homeless Club Supports Y2Y Shelter for Homeless Youths

Members of the Belmont High School Working to Help the Homeless Club (WTHH) Members of the Belmont High School Working to Help the Homeless Club (WTHH) committed themselves to stocking the food pantry at the new youth shelter in Harvard Square, Y2Y Harvard Square.  Hosted at the Belmont Star Market on February 27, the students gave customers lists of items requested by Y2Y and asked them to purchase some of the non-perishables and drop them off after completing their shopping. 

The generosity of the community was astounding.  Twenty-nine boxes and twenty-five bags were filled with the makings of many meals for the 22 homeless young adults who sleep at the shelter every night.  In addition, contributions totaling over $300, go toward filling the needs of the shelter.  Co-President Momoko Tokuo shared her thoughts, “I never expected the food collection to be such a success! It is truly heartwarming to know that there are many people in our community who are willing to help us help the people in need. This shows what a giving community working together towards a great cause can do! “

The idea for this shelter, exclusively for homeless youths from ages 18-34, came from Harvard students, who were volunteering at a Harvard student-run adult shelter in a Harvard Square.  Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg, Harvard class of 2015, are the founders of Y2Y, and its directors.  The shelter opened in December 2015 and is only the second (and larger) shelter for young adults in the Boston area.  The good news is that there are now a total of 34 beds between the two shelters; the bad news is that the area needs them. 

The statistics are grim.  There are about 600 homeless youth in the metro area, 39,000 in the United States, according to the Y2Y website and publications listed.  Almost 40 per cent of them have aged out of the foster care system and have nowhere to live.  Of the overall figure, between 20 and 40 per cent of these young adults are LBGTQ, and 36 per cent were forced to move out of their homes.

Y2Y offers various services for the youth who stay there, both from volunteers and Youth on Fire.  Included are case management, legal aid, career readiness, mental health care, case management, job training, and mentoring.

Last year, WTHH donated the proceeds of its coffeehouse, approximately $1,600, to the shelter, then still in the planning phase.  Now that Y2Y is a reality, the Club’s annual coffeehouse, held on March 10 this year, supported the shelter again.  Jackie Modesett, a junior at Harvard University and Y2Y fundraising director, along with volunteer Elizabeth Jacobson, shared their knowledge with the audience.  With a large, supportive crowd cheering the great and varied musical talents of the BHS performers, and enjoying ice cream and homemade desserts, another $1700 was raised for the new Y2Y Harvard Square. 

Barry Eom, WTHH Co-President, summarizes, “Over the past year, our club has gotten much more active in our affiliation with Y2Y. I hope that Y2Y and WTHH can continue building a good relationship, growing together as we all help tackle homelessness in the greater Boston area.”

Some WTHH Members at Star Market with BHS Parent and Star Market Manager Janet Cunningham