Speaking of young people, we were thrilled to host 80 youth at Camp Rise Up, our annual leadership and life skills camp for kids living with homelessness, held at the end of each summer in upstate New York. The camp has grown from 26 campers six years ago to a fully developed program of essential adolescent health and social-emotional learning that includes two tracks for young people to train as counselors, leading to employment. We already have a wait list of those wanting this additional training and plan to accommodate 20 more campers. The camp is generously funded by private support.
Private support also helped us realize the optometry clinic we’ve long hoped to build into our comprehensive practice. Eyecare is an unmet need among those experiencing homelessness, with the cost of glasses unreachable to most. Now, with capital support from a long-time donor, the clinic is under construction, with plans to open in the spring with the ability to provide families with exams and glasses. The same foundation also provided funding for us to renovate an on-site clinic at a high-density family homeless shelter in Brooklyn, which will open in early 2024.
Funding from two local foundations supported our efforts to hire and retain behavioral health providers during an unprecedented national staff shortage. Operating at capacity allowed us to provide a continuum of trauma-informed care—a need that peaked during the pandemic—and reduce the list of patients waiting for the screenings that would help them establish treatment plans.