Following the Impact at Outreach, Inc.

by Beth Thomas

On October 15, the ladies of Impact 100 went to Outreach, Inc., for a Follow the Impact event. Eric Howard, Outreach Executive Director, and Missy Wright, Development Coordinator, were our hosts for the evening. Outreach is a nonprofit organization that reaches out to homeless young men and women (ages 14-24) with the goal of equipping and empowering them to achieve stability and life transformation. To sum it up in the words of member Sue Ann Kalleres, “Everything about the program was impressive including the homey and welcoming atmosphere of the house itself, and especially the love and enthusiasm shown by Missy and Eric.”

Eric told us that the $100,000 grant Outreach received from impact 100 in 2009 was transformational. They were able to expand the G.O.A.L. (Graduation, Occupation, Address, Lifestyle) program supporting homeless youth going to school (with a 88% graduation rate last year), and found that other granters were more interested in their proposals once they knew Outreach had passed Impact 100’s rigorous granting process: another testament to our granting process.

We were given multiple choice questions about homeless youth, and it was a very informative exercise:

1. How many homeless youth (under 24 years old) are there in the state of Indiana?
A. 1200
B. 50,000
C. 29,000

2. On an average day, where is the most likely place to find a homeless young person hanging out?
A. Community Center
B. Public Park
C. Public Library

3. How many female Outreach youth have experienced a sexually traumatic event before the age of 18?
A. 55%
B. 38%
C. 89%

4. What is the average time it takes for a homeless youth to be approached to be involved in prostitution once they are on the street?
A. 12 hours
B. 5 days
C. 48 hours

Sadly, all the answers are “C.” There are homeless youth everywhere in the state, urban and rural, but the highest concentrations are in the largest cities (Indianapolis, Gary, Ft. Wayne, etc.). Homeless youth (and adults) hang out in libraries because they are safe and out of the elements. The sexually traumatic events may actually be underreported since many youth do not open up about everything that happens to them. The prostitution the youth are offered does not always mean street soliciting, but may include an offer to trade food and shelter for sex.

During a tour of the facilities we learned more about the services Outreach offers and how they are provided. The basement of the building is used for a food pantry and clothing closet. Each youth registered with the program can come to the pick up a weekly allotment of food and get needed clothing. The upstairs contains offices where the youth can meet with the staff and counselors, and of course where Eric and Missy do the work of supporting an organization of this size.

The main level is the hub of the house and where the youth spend most of their time. It houses the kitchens, bathrooms (for just one person at a time like the one in your own home), laundry, gathering rooms, and tables for communal meals. Quoting Sue Ann again, “I applaud their efforts to make the children comfortable physically first. The idea of having a shower, a bathroom with a door, clean clothes to put on, and food to eat, all with no strings attached. This must be magic for them.

Outreach is always in need of food their clients can take with them, and really need athletic shoes (the youth walk a lot and these are the best shoes for that). It was interesting to learn that gift cards in small amounts to businesses such as CVS, Walmart, etc. are always appreciated because it allows the youth to pick out toiletries and other personal items for themselves. Many local churches, such as member Debbie Marlett’s, supports Outreach and their efforts. Member Terry Mumford and her husband Lew (who came to the Outreach event with Terry) went shopping the next day to purchase items Eric and Missy told us they needed. If you would like to help, please contact Eric or Missy at Outreach (317) 951-8886 to find out what they need most.

Outreach is just one of the 35 non-profits in Indianapolis to receive a grant from you and the women of Impact 100. Out of those 35, 11 received $100,000 or more that was transformational to their program and to our community. You helped do that. Each of you, with your donation to Impact 100, is a philanthropist working to make a difference in our community.

If you haven’t made your donation for 2015, what are you waiting for?