Chance, charm, serendipity and unwavering love: Celebrating 15 years of p:ear
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15 years ago, we envisioned a place where kids could reach their highest potential; a place where the emotional maturation of a young person was as important as food and shelter: a place where young people could be nurtured and trusted to grow into healthy adults.
We envisioned a program fueled by the quality and depth of the relationships built there; a place that values flexibility and would rebuild bridges between youth and a larger, supportive community, creating the potential for a mutual respect and understanding.
We envisioned a place in which youth could see themselves beyond their homelessness. A place where they could experience themselves as artists, writers, musicians and athletes, and where we could encourage new depth in their comprehension of themselves and others.
After the loss of our jobs at the now defunct Salvation Army Greenhouse, a brave call from a Nokia flip phone; and the acquisition of a floor of an abandoned building, this vision, this place, opened in February 2002 with the aim to build strong relationships with homeless youth to affirm their personal worth and to help them create more personally meaningful lives.
What we couldn’t have envisioned was the community that showed up alongside us to move this dream forward and beyond anything we could have imagined. p:ear is built and sustained by a community of creators, dreamers, fighters, leaders, financiers; a community willing to take risks, to redefine themselves and their lives because of a shared belief in the futures and value of these young people.
For the past 15 years we have heard stories from 1000’s of young homeless kids: stories of harrowing abuse and abandonment. Plots of lives disintegrating into the shadows of the streets, forgotten, unnoticed. Themes of trauma embedded in young hearts, and characters experiencing profound depths of loneliness and desolation. Their stories are the fragmented histories of unstable and hazardous lives. But we, and they, still have hope. . .
Because the young people at p:ear are some of the strongest, most resilient and deeply compassionate people we have ever met. We have witnessed herculean feats of the human spirit; mourned devastating loss; and have been changed by profound love.
The future of p:ear lies in the hearts of all of you willing to believe in the power of love, trust and hope and that every human life is valuable; that everyone deserves dignity and respect; that relationships foster more change than do programs; that events don’t define people, attitudes do; and that each young person that walks through our door has the fortitude to heal, grow, change and become who they dream of being.
Beth, Pippa and Joy, p:ear’s founders and directors