This is an uncertain time in our country. Michigan has the dubious distinction of having the most bias and hate crimes in the Midwest since the presidential election; the state has logged reports of more hate crimes in the past month than in any one year period. In Washtenaw County, we have seen a number of hate crimes perpetrated near each of our three Ozone House sites.
Youth that we know, especially youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth, have shared with us how scared they feel about their safety and their futures. Surviving adolescence is hard. Trying to secure a safe place to lay your head or score a meal is harder still. Adding the palpable fear that many youth experience just by walking down the street makes an impossible situation impossibly traumatic.
With 40% of our annual funding coming from the federal government, we at Ozone House are uncertain, too.
Facing this uncertainty, we turn to what is certain: our values. Our mission. There has been much discord and divisiveness this year, we can all agree that ALL youth deserve a place to call home with loving support and guidance.
We invest donations in vital resources like transportation for youth to get to our Safe Stay shelter, interview clothing for a WorkZone graduate, a therapist to help families build healthy relationships, a warm place to Drop In and share a meal, and crisis support 24/7, 365 days/year.
This is certain: we are privileged and grateful that we can rely on our Ozone House family to ensure that young people in the community have a safe place with real support.
This, too, is certain: we will keep standing up for youth. We will keep providing safety and support.