It's difficult to pinpoint just when the connection between Greenwood's March 2016 explosion and our Youth Employment program was made. Perhaps it was the first few days, when our connection as a neighborhood and resolve to care for one another grew large enough to numb the reality of what had transpired. Maybe it was the Saturday after the explosion when over 100 volunteers answered our call to clean up, beautify, and show Greenwood some love while it was still buried in wreckage and shock.
Truthfully, the "when" does not matter all that much. What matters is that by some mysterious force, this new program and that catastrophic moment in our neighborhood will be forever linked. Urban Hands could never have earned a deep level of trust with so many local businesses had that explosion not occurred. And our efforts were by no means herculean; picking up glass, planting flowers, and creating murals. Simply put, our job was to be present, to listen, and lift the spirits of those who were hurting.
Since that time, we've been on the receiving end of far greater generosity from local businesses to help us launch this program. From Razzi's Pizzeria and the Green Bean Coffehouse, all the way to Ken's Market and our local Fred Meyer, we've heard so many "YES's" to our request that they interview our young people for possible hire. We've experienced our fair share of setbacks as we try to match up just the right person with just the right job or assist someone in navigating the perils of holding down a job while being unstably housed or homeless. But I've also seen a young person have their first real interview with a manager who cares about their success and well-being. And just this month we're celebrating a full year of employment at Harbor Creek Farms for a young person who had never worked more than odd-jobs his entire life before our program.
All I can say is that I'm immensely and unspeakably grateful for this neighborhood. The people of our little village are something special; to be resilient enough to withstand such a blow only to turn around and extend opportunity to others who are hurting. Lives are being transformed before our very eyes. So let's keep our eyes open together in order to remember where we've been, celebrate where we are now, and dream for future.