An open letter to the community

by Sally Hindman, Youth Spirit Artworks

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince 1983, the Berkeley Boosters have engaged local police officers in off-duty service that involve homeless and low-income local youth in activities making a difference in young people’s lives. The Boosters have distributed turkeys to needy families, organized a summer youth camp, taken young people on outdoor adventures, and provided youth leadership trainings.
In order to carry out this work, the City of Berkeley provided $118,000 from its General Fund in 2012 to the Boosters. Sadly, this year the Berkeley Boosters are closing their doors. The Boosters are facing financial hardship and are unable to continue operating. Our community will greatly miss the Booster’s presence! No nonprofit organizations are finding the recession easy, so all of us sympathize with the difficulties of trying to survive in a very rough economy.
Out of this darkness and potential despair, Youth Spirit Artworks is reporting for duty. The young artists of Youth Spirit are ready, willing and able to step up to the plate and roll up our sleeves, in order to keep the work of the Berkeley Boosters alive.
Paint brushes in hand, we pledge to take youth out for ice cream, on adventure raft trips and other outdoor outings. We will hold backyard BBQs and arrange rides to Berkeley’s 4th of July Fireworks. We would delight in working hand in hand with off-duty Berkeley police in every way possible, thereby making all of these previously offered Berkeley Boosters activities possible!
In addition to carrying on this important work, Youth Spirit Artworks can offer even more. With an additional $60,000 grant from the City of Berkeley (half of what the Boosters received), Youth Spirit would also commit to providing a daytime space indoors where homeless and low-income youth can receive art jobs that provide stipends and training, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., year-round.
Since Youth Spirit had requested a $50,000 budget increase this year in order to expand our program, responding to the challenge of homeless youth on Berkeley sidewalks, $60,000 of the Boosters funding would allow us to both organize the activities the Boosters did AND respond to the huge community need for a way of helping youth get off Berkeley streets and into jobs training.
Give youth a chance!

A young artist from Youth Spirit Artworks created this painting of a powerful, visionary woman.

Youth Spirit currently serves 125 homeless and low-income young people each year at our 650-square-foot art studio and retail store in South Berkeley. We do that 18 hours per week after school from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.) during the school year and 40 hours per week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer.
Funds previously allocated to the Boosters are exactly what Youth Spirit Artworks need in order to expand our space and the hours we can be open providing the art jobs training that could keep at least an additional 50 youth each year off the street.
Please support our proposal seeking an additional $50,000 in 2013-14 to serve homeless youth on Berkeley sidewalks with no place to go!
Youth Spirit Artworks … Reporting for Duty!!!!