In February 2013, Teens With a Purpose held its first ever homeless teen event. In the same manner that all Teens With a Purpose projects and events are selected, this project was the brain child of TWP member, Asia Buie. Asia, who had experienced a brief period of homelessness. Had a deep desire to offer refuge for young people struggling with their living situation. Asia wanted to provide a safe, fun, non-judgmental evening with other young people who could encourage, empower and inspire each other. Asia met Mariah Askew of Blankets for the Homeless at the 2012 TWP Gala. Both young ladies were runners up for the Move Maker Award.
Over the next several weeks of meeting and planning a wonderful evening was crafted. The event titled “Shut it Down!” was hosted by Hope Haven in Virginia Beach. Shut it Down included a full evening of activities starting with dinner, open-mic, make-over photo-shoot, movies, snacks, live concert and games. There were also sleeping accommodations for those that wanted to rest. Breakfast was provided by Union Mission a delicious pancake meal. The event concluded with an affirmation ceremony where each youth leader and homeless youth affirmed each other with something positive they learned that evening about that person as they presented them with survival book bags and sneakers.
The amount of community support was overwhelming. The following partners signed on to make this evening a magical night for these deserving young people. Stand Up for Kids provided movies and projector for the very special guests. Blankets For the Homeless provided towels, mats, blankets, cosmetics and games, The Elks Club provided dinner, Holy Spirit Catholic Church and The Youth Walkers provided mid-night snacks, survival back packs and goodies, socks, gloves, cards, undergarments and prayers, CAS students at Kings Folk High School, Shakira Joyner, and Michelle Sims provided over 50 pair of shoes! Local band Soulstice Reb’l performed a live acoustic concert. Tess Amoruso donated a car load of snacks including fruit and veggie trays, crackers and cheese, hats and gloves.
The event really impacted the youth leaders at Teens With a Purpose, some of them even shared personal stories of when their families struggled with hunger or homelessness. Asia and other youth leaders will be holding another event focusing on Teen homelessness in 2014.