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DrupalCon 2022: The Power of Music and Supporting Youth Experiencing Homelessness

by | April 21, 2022

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With every conference and interaction comes an opportunity to align with our mission of partnering with socially impactful institutions to solve today’s problems. At  previous conferences, we’ve supported various causes and organizations including planting trees, supporting migrants and refugees, and closing the “hunger gap” felt by food-insecure children in Baltimore.

At DrupalCon 2022, we will continue our tradition of spending our swag budget to support mission-driven organizations. We’ve partnered with New Avenues for Youth—a nonprofit in Portland helping to prevent and support youth experiencing homelessness. After researching how much homelessness impacts Portland’s community, Kalamuna wanted to work directly with a frontline . Our partners at Building Changes, for whom we recently redesigned their website, recommended New Avenues, who was excited to hear and accept our proposal.

New Avenues for Youth logo

About New Avenues for Youth

New Avenues for Youth aids Portland youth aged between 9 and 24 years old experiencing homelessness. They focus on helping make positive changes in peoples’ lives through their experiences, identities, needs, and goals. New Avenues provides drop-in day services, job training, support for youth experiencing sex trafficking, services for youth in (or transitioning out of) foster care, LGBTQIA2S+ services, and more. The impact they’ve had and continue to have on youth experiencing homelessness is exemplary and life-changing.

Our Booth at DrupalCon 2022

The team at New Avenues found that music has improved morale, happiness, and confidence in youth caught in troubling times. After hearing this, we collaborated to create a booth experience that emphasizes the power of music and invites attendees to make a unique contribution.

What’s a song that helped get you through a difficult time? Share your song and the story around it at our DrupalCon booth. At the end of DrupalCon 2022, we’ll share these recorded audio stories with New Avenues youth, create a playlist, and donate MP3 players for every story and money for every song.

We collaborated throughout this process with Catharine Hunter and Georgia MacCrone from New Avenues for Youth. We learned what they do and how our global community can better support and understand youth experiencing homelessness.

Hear from New Avenues Employees: Catharine & Georgia:

Hello Catharine and Georgia, thanks for meeting with us!

We’d love to know what attracted you to this line of work or this particular issue?

Georgia: “I wanted a job where I could make a positive, tangible impact on my community and help get people connected with the resources and support they need.”

Why New Avenues for Youth, and what do you do there?

Catharine: “I am the Associate Director of Development here at New Avenues. I chose New Avenues because I wanted to work in supporting folks experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty, and our approach to meeting youth where they are at and getting them to where THEY want to go was the draw for me. Rather than being told what they needed to do, we focus on their goals and aspirations and support them in reaching them.”

Georgia: “As Development Associate, I work primarily in data management and donation coordination. Donors reach out to me with items to donate, questions, or ideas about donations, and I connect with staff in our programs to help get program needs fulfilled and get donations to the folks who need them.

I chose to work for New Avenues because we have a wide variety of programs and support for youth, from drop-in meals to employment opportunities. I think the services we provide and the people involved are fantastic.”

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Georgia: “The people! Everyone I have met here is incredible; the staff are so passionate about what they do and provide such a robust support network for youth and each other. It really shows, and I think it makes our organization successful.

In addition to the staff, I love working with our community members and donors. Our community is full of so many wonderful people who care, and I think this job has really renewed that sense of hope for me. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the world around us, but so many people contribute to positive change in so many ways. When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that every raindrop raises the sea, and I am grateful I get to see that in action here.”

What message would you like to have conveyed to DrupalCon attendees?

Catharine: “The message we would like to get across to folks is that the youth accessing our services are human beings and, just like you and I, have skills, goals, worth, needs, aspirations, and desires.

They may have been cut off from family support due to their identity, have a history of traumas, come from generational poverty, or several other situations. Still, these circumstances do not take away from what they can offer and achieve. They deserve the chance to fulfill their goals and be given the proper support that they need.”

How does music help youth experiencing homelessness?

Catharine: “Youth often use MP3s and music to cope with stress and hardship. Music helps them with their emotional regulation and to reduce anxiety. It can also help those experiencing neurodiversity, blocking out overstimulating noises in times of stress. Some use them at bedtime to help deal with their anxiety or trauma around bedtime routines. They are lifesavers!”

Georgia: “It helps the same way that it helps all of us. It motivates us, relaxes us, resonates with us, and fosters that sense of connection to people who have similar experiences and interests as you. It helps us feel seen and heard.”

If you could add a song to the playlist we’re creating at DrupalCon, what would it be and why?

Georgia: “I have two:

  1. Gold Steps - Neck Deep: The entire Life’s Not Out To Get You album is phenomenal (their best, in my opinion), but this song is my favorite. It’s about picking yourself up in the face of life’s struggles and writing your destiny. It reminded me to keep fighting when I felt like I didn’t have much left in me. So many people are fighting hidden battles, and it’s a friendly reminder that you’re not alone. It keeps hope alive for a better tomorrow.
  2. Dennis – Roy Blair: It feels like a summer day and always puts me in a good mood!”

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or let our readers know?

Georgia: “We appreciate you! Be sure to check out and support organizations in your area that do similar work!”

How you can support New Avenues for Youth and similar organizations

New Avenues for Youth accepts online donations and physical items such as hygiene products, gently used clothing, backpacks, etc. They have volunteer opportunities and events you can attend and sponsor. Follow New Avenues for Youth on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

You can find your local organizations fighting homelessness through a quick Google search of your area and the term “homelessness organizations.” To support them, look to their website, social media, or directly contact them to see their needs.

To learn more about how to help make a difference and help those affected by homelessness, take a look at this article from Love to Know.

Going to DrupalCon 2022?

We’re so excited to be in attendance in person at DrupalCon 2022 in Portland. Be sure to stop by and say hello at our booth! We’ll be in booth #202 in the main expo hall. The Kalamuna team is looking forward to seeing you all there!

Topics:
Drupal
Community & Culture
Michelle Balge

Michelle Balge

UX/UI Designer

First and foremost, Michelle lives an ethically-aligned life. From being an outspoken mental health advocate to working at a cause-driven agency, she’s here to make the world a better place. As our UX/UI designer, she translates our clients’ visions and goals into great user experiences.

More posts by Michelle