The Impact of Youth Advocates

National Homeless Youth Awareness Month
Nov 24, 2009 3:30 PM ET
(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) November 24, 2009 - While many parents across the United States are deciding which gifts will circle the Christmas tree or be unwrapped in the candle light of a menorah, other families are having to make a choice of whether to buy a coat or pay rent.   This year, between 2.5 and 3.5 million people in the United States will experience homelessness – those most in danger of the threat, are children and families – reportedly the fastest growing segment of people in America.   Our streets are now home to 1.3 million kids.   The new face of homelessness begs that we not treat them as “invisible” or allow them to blend in with the decay or urban wall paper and be forgotten in the cold. One Warm Coat meets that challenge by engaging the public in a national effort that meets local needs by providing any person in need with a warm coat, free of charge.    Two years ago the U.S. Senate recognized the month of November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. The date holds significance to One Warm Coat whose founder, Lois Pavlow, a long-time philanthropist, organized her first coat collection in San Francisco on Thanksgiving weekend 1992.   Since then, more than 1 million coats have been donated in thousands of local communities across North America.    There is a fundamental model of success in the One Warm Coat approach. First, the non-profit offers a guidebook of core requirements to ensure that the coats collected will go to reputable shelters and donation centers rather than thrift stores.    The simplicity of the idea is also the beauty of the idea.   Lee Fox, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at KooDooZ Corporation, asked Sherri Wood, President and National Coordinator, if she would invite One Warm Coat youth advocates to share and inspire other kids to get involved in the cause. Within mere weeks of the newsletter distribution, Addison Graham got in front of a camera and shared the impact she has personally made in collecting more than 400 winter coats for those who would otherwise not have protection from the frigid temperatures.    November also earmarks the debut of “Cause4KDZ” a video blog launched by KooDooZ this month for the purpose of showcasing young change-makers and the causes they support. “Any age can bring positive impact and change,” said Fox. “While school-based community service remains robust, elementary classrooms are less likely to integrate service than secondary schools. So we have to find other ways to show the public how to engage their kids.  Organizations like One Warm Coat offers such a compelling opportunity for all ages."   In 2008 more than 8.24 million teens (ages 16-24) volunteered out of a total 61.8 million Americans.    In comparison, it’s estimated that just over 4.2 million elementary, middle and secondary school students participated.  Still in alpha, KooDooZ is working closely with grassroots organizations, to engage youth in volunteerism, cause and social impact opportunities.