September 23, 2016

Summer Needs Program for Homeless Teens

This spring we collaborated with Kyle Hughes, a Westfield resident and Westfield High alumnus, Melissa Cahalan of Holyoke Community College, and Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski of Westfield Public Schools to address unmet basic needs of Westfield High and Technical Academy students. Many of these young people are “unaccompanied minors” (teens who are not under the care of a parent or legal guardian) who are currently “couch surfing” (sleeping on couches in the homes of friends or relatives).

Together, administrators and adjustment counselors completed intake sheets created by the Westfield Food Pantry.  Nearly all of the 48 students lacked clothing or sneakers. Some needed steel-toed boots for school. There were also countless requests for food and groceries and basics like laundry soap. 

Using these lists and a total of $5,000 in grant funding, four dedicated volunteers and our Director shopped for the students. Volunteers sorted the items by student, and Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski delivered them on June 15.  A very special thanks to Dan Dziuban, owner of Theory Skate Shop for donating to this project!

A similar program was organized this past Christmas, with an additional $5,000 spent on Westfield High and Technical Academy students. Over 115 students received clothing and food during the Christmas campaign. 

Written by Rebecca Hart

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