Things We’re Thankful For – Interview with A.Y.A Youth Collective CEO Lauren VanKeulen on At Home with Eastbrook Homes
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we would like to thank all of the wonderful Taste and Tour 2020 non-profit partners and commend them on the incredible work they do for the Michigan community.
We are genuinely grateful for the services each organization provides to the people in need throughout Michigan and are proud to support their roles in our community.
This year, we welcomed a new non-profit partner to our group, one which beat incredible odds and grew from the merger of two organizations in the middle of a global pandemic to become an effective force in the support of West Michigan youth in need.
In 2020, A.Y.A Youth Collective, which stands for As You Are, was formed when 311 Housing, the largest youth-specific housing provider in West Michigan and Grand Rapids HQ, the only youth drop-in center in West Michigan, merged to increase the quality and capacity of the services they provide and add additional resources.
A.Y.A Youth Collective is a collective of spaces for youth experiencing homelessness, unsafe, or unstable housing. A.Y.A ensures their basic needs are met and provides a platform to launch their future.
The A.Y.A Youth Collective’s mission is rooted in belonging so people who have experienced exclusion due to race, gender, family, foster care, and more can be known and celebrated for who they are.
Even with resources like budget and staffing hit by the pandemic, A.Y.A Youth Collective has been able to provide weekly meal and grocery deliveries to youth in housing, free masks, hand sanitizer, and PPE to any youth who come through the door.
A.Y.A has also been able to provide free rental assistance to housing alumni who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, helping them to keep their housing and preventing them from landing back on the streets. They have also provided employment support so that all of the youth who lost employment are back into jobs.
A.Y.A does so much more, like providing daily hot meals, and basic needs provisions every single day, as well as connections to physical and mental health support through partnerships with the GVSU Family Health Center, HealthNet of West Michigan, and The Wisdom Center counseling services.
Please tune in below to hear A.Y.A’s Lauren VanKeulen talk about these topics and so much more, including how the holidays are hard on many people, but especially youth in foster care.
You can also follow the A.Y.A Youth Collective social media pages for more information on how you can help support the organization and help West Michigan’s youth in need during these especially difficult times. Or, click here to visit the A.Y.A Youth Collective website, learn more about the organization, and find out how you can help.
Thank you for checking out this week’s Eastbrook Homes blog post and we hope you have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and the rest of the Holiday Season.
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