Monday, December 28, 2009

Music in the House by Gina Cocomello

At Alternative House my office is upstairs in the back of the house. Today as I was working away at my desk I thought I heard violin music. It was very nice and I enjoyed listening to it while I continued working. The music continued for a few more minutes so I decided to investigate. Downstairs was a shelter resident a teenaged boy playing the violin. He asked staff if it would be ok if he practiced while he was here. Of course the staff encouraged him to do so. The music was soft and soothing, a nice change from Guitar Hero.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Youth Advisoy Council by Meghan Huebner

As the director of residential services, I am fortunate to work with teens in a number of different settings. One of the more unique ways is through our youth advisory council, who serve as volunteers to advise Alternative House on shelter policies, perform outreach to their peers, and participate in fundraising. The group of 7-12 teens meets monthly throughout the school year and has participated in various projects, such as gift-wrapping, creating and presenting information to teens on issues of depression, and distributing packets of information to guidance counselors and other individuals who come into contact with teens on a regular basis. They have also selected inspirational quotes that were painted on the walls of our shelter and organized a fundraiser through Ledo’s Pizza.

One current Youth Council member reflected on her experience:

“Despite America’s prosperity, many of the youth in our own country lack essential daily needs. With the recent economic downturn, this has only gotten worse. After seeing a homeless family in D.C. with small children, I decided that I had to do something to help, no matter how small. I joined the Youth Advisory Council at Alternative House, a home for teens who basically need shelter whether it be for the night or the week. I really enjoy laid-back environment at Alternative House and the rewarding meetings that I look forward to each month. Though advertising and suggesting improvements does not seem like much, each little step counts.”

By creating an environment where teens can help their peers and volunteer their time, the Alternative House has created an arrangement where residents, staff, and the teen volunteers can all benefit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What's for dinner?

Yum…is that lasagna that I smell? Alternative House’s Emergency Shelter provides services for over 200 youth a year, on average there are 75 youth involved in our Community Outreach programs everyday, as well as the mothers and youth involved in our Assisting Young Mothers program and Homeless Youth Initiative. That translates into huge need for snacks and meals for these young people. During the average week while school is in session, Alternative House provides 56 breakfasts, 28 lunches, 487 snacks, and 455 dinners. Volunteers are essential in helping us in this monumental task. We have several volunteer groups and individual volunteers who drop off or prepare meals for our programs. Some volunteers will prepare a meal just once while others prepare meals either weekly or monthly. Regardless, this is a huge help to our staff. By providing meals for our Emergency Shelter for Teenagers and Outreach programs, volunteers allow our staff to focus on individual coaching sessions with teens rather than meal preparation. In the Community Outreach program these snacks and meals represent food that the youth might otherwise not have access to. By providing meals for the Assisting Young Mothers program volunteers are helping the mothers by alleviating one of the many tasks of their personal, work, and family life that they are trying to balance. All of our programs eat family-style meals and this helps them to know that other people care about them and have the opportunity to interact with positive adult role models. Thank you to all who help us feed the youth we serve and please contact us if you would be interested in helping to provide snacks or meals for our programs.