Community volunteers spend MLK Day at HomePlate
Volunteers from across the area spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day sprucing up a Hillsboro youth center aimed at getting Washington County's homeless children off the streets.
Homeless youth from across Washington County are welcome to drop into HomePlate Youth Services' three locations in Hillsboro and Beaverton, where the organization offers resources and access to education and employment to young people experiencing homelessness three nights a week.
On Monday, volunteers from Nike and the Human Rights Campaign helped clean and organize its Beaverton and Hillsboro drop-in sites.
"They helped us organize and clean and get ready for the youth that come here," said Bridget Calfee, executive director of HomePlate Youth Services.
HomePlate offers services to youth as young as 12 or as old as 24 who are experiencing housing instability.
"Homelessness looks different for each person," Calfee said. "For some, their whole family is homeless, [while] others are living outside on their own. A lot are couch surfing, bouncing from place to place for a week a a time."
For many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of service and volunteerism. But Calfee said the need for volunteers stretches far beyond the first Monday in January.
"We utilize so many community volunteers. It's a great way to get involved," she said. "Throughout the week people bring meals. They donate their time and they build relationships with our young people."
The organization began in downtown Hillsboro in 2005. HomePlate still runs its Thursday night drop-in center at First Congregational Church, 494 E. Main St., on Thursdays. The group moved its headquarters to a larger space in Beaverton in 2016. The Beaverton School District has more homeless students than any other district in the state, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
Calfee said the work is challenging, but rewarding.
"There are a multitude of ways that people can help, even if it's helping to bring a dinner, or be a host at a day center," Calfee said. "There have been some really beautiful things that have come from our volunteers working with these kids. They've formed some really authentic relationships."