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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Homeless Committee Approves “Homeless Reunification Project”

By Angela McGregor

Motion for “Holiday Homeless Reunification” Project approved at 10/24/2016 Homeless Committee Meeting held at Safe Place for Youth.

Miracle Messages (http://www.miraclemessages.org) is an innovative program utilizing technology to put the homeless back in touch with friends, family and loved ones via the Miracle Messages Social Media Program. Similar programs in other municipalities have shown a 40% success rate in getting the homeless off the streets and a 90% success rate in reuniting the homeless with loved ones. Miracle Messaging, recently profiled on NPR (http://www.npr.org/2016/10/16/498074856/harnessing-social-media-to-reconnect-homeless-people-with-their-families), will work in tandem with local organizations, including Safe Place for Youth, which already has a similar program in place, during the second week of December, during Christmas and Hanukah. Any other local social service agencies which wish to be involved are encouraged to do so. The motion passed unanimously, and will be sent to the VNC Board for approval.

The Homeless Committee has decided that they will be holding their monthly meetings at local organizations that serve the homeless so that participants can all can get better informed and create a stronger community. This month’s meeting was held at Safe Place for Youth at 2469 Lincoln Blvd. Following the meeting, SPY’s Executive Director and Founder Alison Hurst gave a presentation about her organization. SPY will be 5 years old in December, and began with a small group of volunteers handing out food on the Boardwalk, then moved into the First Baptist Church and now has 13 full time employees serving 60-80 clients between the ages of 12-25 with meals, health care, showers (which were donated by Snapchat) and a wide variety of programs including yoga, job training and digital arts. Three days a week staffers engage in outreach and engagement to local homeless youth in the hopes that they will accept SPY’s support before becoming street-entrenched. There is also a drop in program, and SPY serves two meals a day to upwards of 80 homeless individuals with the help of many volunteers from the community. Last year, SPY was able to get 61 homeless youth in Venice off the streets. If you would like to find out more, or get involved with SPY, their website is at http://www.safeplaceforyouth.org.

A tour of SPY’s facilities followed Ms. Hurst’s presentation.

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