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We are in the thick of making POP Project Love Bundles a reality and I have been moved to share some thoughts and impressions with you.

In case you weren’t aware, homeless youth in Salt Lake City do not have a shelter to stay in at night. Up until recently it was illegal to house adolescents. Fortunately that law has changed and a shelter is being built, but it will not be open until next year.

Volunteers of America has a Homeless Youth Resource Center, where kids can stay during the day and receive meals. Many of the youth are camping throughout the city and the foothills, so HYRC has a mobile unit (a van) in which they deliver much needed resources to the youth as well as connect them to multiple resources.

Last year, HYRC served 647 youth, having a total of 23,768 contacts, They dispersed 102,422 basic need items, made 3,766 referrals and provided 789 care coördination hours meaning they sat down one on one to discuss treatment services etc.

Pioneers of Peace, along with Target and other community angels are teaming up to make a difference in these adolescents lives this Valentine’s Day. We have initiated what we fondly refer to as “POP Project Love Bundles” in which we are providing: a handmade fleece scarf, a set of hand warmers, a new pair of socks, lip balm, a protein or granola bar, and a paper crane complete with a handwritten quote. These items are all rolled up and then tied with raffia; hence a “love bundle.” Our goal this year is to give 200 bundles.

The response has been wonderful! We have enough scarfs, hand warmers, granola and protein bars, but we are still in need of socks.

Pioneers of Peace, has created our own brand of lip balm that we will be selling using the Tom’s Shoes business model, One for One. In other words when you buy a tube of lip balm for yourself, you will be providing a tube for a homeless youth. We hope you will support our cause by stocking up on our fantastic, hip, SPF-15 lip balm that will soon be available.

Now for some thoughts…

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One of my earliest memories is that of my dad sitting me down around Valentine’s Day to tell me I mustn’t neglect to give everyone in my class a Valentine.  As I was decorating my shoe box/Valentine’s Mailbox, he told me the story of an awkward little girl in his elementary school that didn’t receive any Valentine’s from her classmates. He vividly remembered the pain and tears on her face and every year forward he made sure to give her a Valentine.  My dad taught me to not forget the forgotten.

An observation…

Working with Anger Like a Horse Whisperer

Last week I was at Costco where I overheard a common, but unpleasant exchange between a mother and a 10ish year old boy. The mother was obviously at her wits end and her son had done something that she apparently had told him to stop. It was at that point that I entered the scene and heard these screaming words leave her lips…

“Stop it!!! I’ve told you and told you to stop it! What’s the matter with you? Are you stupid?!!!

My heart broke as I heard those words and especially when I looked at the boys face.

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A conversation with my son…

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Last week I was on the phone talking to my son who lives in Korea. Somewhere in our conversation I told him about “Project Love Bundles.” His response was very positive and supportive. He said, maybe next year you can do it in November because it gets really cold outside. That way they could use the scarves longer. He then went on to tell me about VOA’s HYRC, and said I should call the local public radio stations to get the word out. I reminded him that HYRC  is the agency we are working with and then the conversation turned to another topic.

That particular son left home at 18 under not so favorable circumstances. That was 18 years ago and he is now a certified teacher and Dean of Student Affairs at an international school in Korea. After hanging up the phone, I wondered how he knew so much about the Homeless Youth Resource Center and how cold it gets at night when you’re homeless.

How do these thoughts come together? I’m not exactly sure, but I do know this.

I want the homeless youth of Salt Lake City to know they are not forgotten this Valentine’s Day.

P.S. HYRC, if you helped my son at the most difficult time of his life I am forever grateful to you.