24 Aug BUY ONE, GIVE ONE, CHANGE A LIFE
Today Sam Bracken and I are launching our BUY ONE, GIVE ONE, CHANGE A LIFE campaign for My Orange Duffel Bag – A Journey to Radical Change. During Kevin Montgomery‘s 50 States in 50 Days Tour, which kicks off today in Alaska, for every copy of the new Crown Archetype version purchased, Sam and I will donate a copy of our self-published version to the Orange Duffel Bag Foundation, which Sam and I co-founded and which serves homeless youth and teens aging out of foster care (ages 12-24). Please share, share, share. We’ve touched the lives of almost 2,000 kids since ODBF started 2 years ago. Help get this book into the hands of at-risk kids.
Singer/Songwriter Kevin Montgomery‘s 50 States in 50 Days Tour kicks off today in Wasilla, Alaska, which has one of the highest rates of homeless teens per capita in the nation. When Kevin did this tour in 2010 with ODBF as his charity partner, he met Michelle Carney Overstreet, who at the time was the guidance counselor at a high school where almost all 300 students were homeless or “unaccompanied youth.” Black garbage bags filled with the teens’ belongings lined her office.
Kevin’s 2010 documentary kicked off with his interview of Michelle, who told us about the many barriers her kids faced. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in Alaska, and parents often abandon their teens, but keep their id’s so that they can continue getting aid for the teens who no longer lives with them. That means they can’t get aid, they can’t pursue higher education, and they can’t get jobs. The teens are literally out on their own with nothing to their names. The morning Kevin arrived, it was below zero. Michelle told him that when she got to school at 6:30 a.m. a 16-year-old boy with a black garbage bag was waiting on the steps of the school for her. He’d spent the night there, knowing that the school was the only place he had that was safe.
Since Kevin’s concert and subsequent postings, Michelle launched a campaign to build housing for homeless teens. The community held a candlelight vigil in frigid January to bring home the message that their homeless teens needed a safe place to stay. Now MY HOUSE (Mat-Su Youth Housing) www.myhousematsu.org is close to being ready. ODBF is proud of the role Kevin played in helping raise awareness in this community. The local bookstore is donating 20% from the sales of “My Orange Duffel Bag” to MY HOUSE https://www.facebook.com/MyHouseMatSu.
Most recently, Jasmine, a homeless teen, earned a $2,000 scholarship, but right now her college dreams are on hold because the state of Alaska will not allow her to get a student loan without a parent co-signer. MY HOUSE is working to raise the $10,000 she needs for her tuition and housing.
Last night I was serving as an advocate for our Atlanta class of teens in foster care who are taking our 12-week life plan coaching course. In the month and a half since I first met these young people, I’ve seen their hope for their futures grow by leaps and bounds. They share good news from their week – one got asked to tryout for a collegiate cheering squad next summer, another made the Top 10 roster on his high school’s highly rated basketball squad, another was accepted into 100 Black Men — and give each other support and high fives. This current class graduates on September 15, and will be presented with orange duffel bags and laptop computers. When kids know you love and believe in them, miracles happen.
Help us raise awareness in your community. Get involved with a local organization that serves homeless youth or teens in foster care. These are our kids. They deserve the love and guidance of safe, caring adults. Come out and support Kevin on his tour (see the Roadmap at www.KevinMontgomery.com). When you go to his site, you’ll see that in several states, he still needs house concerts. He’ll be interviewing kids who have aged out of foster care and homeless youth all along the way for a documentary to bring awareness about the 30,000 kids who age out of the foster care system each year and the 2 million homeless kids in our country. Buy a book, and we’ll match your purchase with a donation of a book to ODBF that will go to an at-risk kid. Donate to ODBF (www.odbf.org) and help us reach more kids with our transformational coaching program and ongoing advocacy. And please share, share, share this blog post. Our teens are counting on you.