North County Youth Empowerment Space (Y. E. S.)
Organized by: Operation Help or Hush
Operation Help or Hush via Crowdrise
September 06, 2015
EVENT DATE Sep 05, 2015
The North County Youth Empowerment Space (Y. E. S.) is a safe environment for school-aged children and young adults. Our goal is to provide structured recreation and community building, and to equip teens and young adults with entrepreneurial training and job and life skills.
Y. E. S. is located in a vacant school adjacent to Greater St. Mark’s Family Church in unincorporated St. Louis County, in the vicinity of Ferguson and Dellwood municipalities. It is less than two miles away from the West Florissant corridor and has become a sacred space in the community and the movement for black lives in St. Louis.
In August, 2015, Operation Help or Hush (OHOH) set up a temporary safe space in the school. As we provided food, water, and medical supplies to the community during a time of unrest, many children and young adults expressed the desire for a consistent safe recreational space. Previously, at various times over the past year and in various capacities, the school has been a safe space for organizers and the community. The goal now is to transform and repurpose the building into a fully functional community space to equip, empower, and enrich the lives of school-aged children and young adults.
Unlike the centers in Ferguson and Dellwood, which are almost entirely recreational and charge cost-prohibitive membership fees, North County Y. E. S. is OHOH's direct response to the expressed desire for a free and holistic community center.
Recreation and Education Wing
The west wing of the space features a full-court gymnasium for pick-up games of basketball or tournaments as well as community health and fitness programs. In our classroom spaces, we will offer GED and SAT/ACT prep classes, as well as homework help and tutoring services. This wing will also include a computer lab and media lounge.
The east wing of the space will focus on entrepreneurship training, and job/life skills. It will feature a collaborative workspace where individuals can come together for creative and/or professional purposes. This area will be used for various entrepreneurial and apprenticeship programs. Meeting space will be available for residents, community organizers and community groups. An outdoor community garden sits adjacent to this wing.
Progress & Timeline
In one week, OHOH has completely cleaned out the school and started necessary repairs to obtain a new occupancy permit. We have stripped and waxed the gymnasium floor. We have deodorized and shampooed all the classroom carpets. We have removed and recycled several large truckloads of unusable furniture and donated books and furniture in good condition to the community. We have started plumbing projects. And we have thoroughly inspected each room in the school and developed an action plan for all necessary repairs to ensure the safety of all children and young adults that will use this space.
These initial projects (Phase 1), including paying all workers a living wage of $15 an hour, have already cost OHOH well over $6,000. Based on three independent estimates, additional repairs will cost another $22,000. Our goal is to raise this money by September 5, 2015 and complete all Phase 1 projects by September 19, 2015.
In addition to this crowd funding effort, we have a public Amazon wish list and will continue to push out on our social media outlets other ways you can support this project.