Dear friends,

The first blooms of Spring have arrived, and with them, our hopes for positive change and a renewed spirit of optimism so sorely needed in our community.

This sense of optimism is tempered by last year’s grueling toll, most especially on those we serve who are disproportionately youth of color and/or LGBTQ+. With you, our community, we acknowledge and mourn the loss of precious lives, jobs, independence, connection, and financial stability.

We look forward to reconnecting in person soon, but the road to full recovery is going to be very challenging. Our clients do much of the heavy lifting themselves, but during this crucial period, they will need support regarding the end of the eviction moratorium, disconnection from education, lost employment, and an increased need for mental health services.

To illustrate the challenges still faced by our clients, a recent study showed that 32% of youth respondents had slept in three or more different locations over the past week. Not only does it make this population more difficult to reach, this cohort then becomes more likely to contract and spread the coronavirus and less likely to receive vaccination.

Our ability to provide crucial services has been strained this past year, for all the reasons splashed across the newspaper headlines each day. Resources once available to this vulnerable population, like emergency shelters, have been closed or had additional barriers hindering accessibility for many. This has resulted in more young people without a safe place to shelter.

You know that at Larkin Street, we don’t stop at providing safe, nightly shelter for youth. With your support, our wraparound model provides clients with education, employment, nutrition, and health care. And we know our model works: Three out of four youth who complete our program enter stable housing. They work hard. They grow. They succeed. Our community thrives.

While we have seen a very real increase in need this past year, I am confident that with all of us working together, we can continue to lift up the voices and needs of young people. The future of our community lies in them. And I know they will continue to amaze us every day.