SPACE FOR THE DISPLACED: Sands Cares, Jon Bon Jovi join Nevada nonprofit in effort to house more homeless youth
The colorful courtyard mural outside a converted home near UNLV contains a hopeful message for the many homeless young people who stop by: the word “imagine,” painted in optimistic orange, against a clear blue Nevada sky.
The word also serves as a mantra of sorts for the folks who work at Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth’s drop-in center.
Imagine having enough resources to house every homeless youth in the Las Vegas Valley.
Imagine Nevada no longer being known as the state with the nation’s highest rate of unsheltered homeless youth.
Imagine one day ending local youth homelessness for good.
They are ambitious goals, but the nonprofit partnership took a step toward reaching it in February, kicking off a new campaign to raise money for more housing for homeless youth, with help from Sands Cares and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.
Sands Cares, the corporate giving program of Las Vegas Sands, provided $100,000 in seed money toward the partnership’s $500,000 goal. The Bon Jovi foundation — named for the famed rocker — pledged to match additional donations, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
Both entities understand that it takes “the whole village” to effect change on the complex youth homelessness front, said Arash Ghafoori, the partnership’s executive director, while showing visitors around the drop-in center that includes a kitchen, an art and music room, shower and laundry facilities, a “healing room,” a workout room and plenty of popcorn.
“It can’t just be one partnership,” he said. “It can’t just be a few people. We all have to work together.”
Ron Reese, senior vice president of global communications and corporate affairs at Sands, hopes the community will rally around the fundraising effort. “It’s imperative that we give our community’s vulnerable youth a fresh start,” he said in a news release.
Bon Jovi, board chairman of his namesake foundation, said the point of offering matching funds was “to motivate others to take action.”
“Together, we can give homeless youth more than just a place to sleep—we will provide them with the resources they need for self-sufficiency and success.”
Those resources — including case management, life skills classes, therapy and workforce readiness training — go toward helping young people between the ages of 12 and 20. Young people such as Taisacan Hall, who became homeless last year after her family got evicted and wound up living in a weekly rental.
“You can never really catch your breath because you’re so busy trying to catch up, and you never really catch up,” the 19-year-old says. “I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
The partnership helped Hall acquire an ID, update her resume, and find a full-time job as a hotel operator at the Venetian. She now shares a condo with two roommates, who are also partnership clients. (The nonprofit houses youth in scattered-site housing, rather than in a single neighborhood.)
Hall’s relationship with her family is complicated, she says, and she now has only “need-based” contact with family members.
“That’s OK, because I feel like I have a family with (the partnership) now,” she says. “I’m not ever really alone.”
Southern Nevada currently has only enough resources to house less than 22 percent of the homeless young people in the area, Ghafoori says.
The fundraising campaign came in direct response to the Southern Nevada Plan to End Youth Homelessness, unveiled at November’s Southern Nevada Youth Homelessness Summit. The campaign targets major gifts from corporations and foundations, but also welcomes online donations from the community at www.nphy.org/aplacetosleep.
As of April 4, the campaign had raised nearly $247,000.
Sands Cares fundraiser to feature Kelly Clarkson
Grammy-winner Kelly Clarkson will headline Sands Cares Inspire 2019, the signature fundraising event for the Sands Cares Accelerator Program, on May 24 at the Venetian.
The charity concert, underwritten by Las Vegas Sands, will raise funds for the Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation and the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. Both are affiliated with the Accelerator Program’s goal of investing nonprofit organizations with resources to make an impact in Las Vegas.
General admission tickets for the concert are available at www.Venetian.com/INSPIRE, the Venetian box office or Ticketmaster.
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