Portland, OR. Focus on Youth is a nonprofit combining sustainable gardening and photography with hands-on learning. Homeless and at-risk youth learn leadership, responsibility, gardening, healthy eating, and photography as they “grow their own food” and photograph their achievements at Sunflower Organic Farm. The nonprofit grows and donates produce to local food pantries serving children and families to help alleviate community hunger.
Currently, Focus on Youth is operating a flower stand to raise needed funds. It’s located at 5901 SW Garden Home Road, Portland, OR 97219. The flower stand is open Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to noon. It’s selling small flower bouquets for $10 and large for $20.
By raising money, it is able to purchase essential equipment/supplies for the farm and expand to grow more produce. According to the advocates, “Covid-19 is putting thousands of people in our community at risk for food insecurity and as a result, making them vulnerable to malnutrition and serious illness. Closure of restaurants has reduced food donations to shelters and Food Pantries exactly when the need for food donations has increased.”
You can visit the flower stand any time because it has an ‘honesty box’, so supporters can purchase bouquets when flower stand volunteers aren’t present. Focus on Youth accepts both cash and digital payment for flowers.
The mission of Focus on Youth is to nurture creativity, promote self-esteem, cultivate leadership, foster independence, encourage success, and profoundly transform the lives of homeless and at-risk youth.
Participants take away positive experiences, food, pictures of what they have achieved, and a wealth of knowledge about sustainable gardening.
Volunteers man the flower stand.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers have spread 114 tons of organic compost and tripled the size of our garden with the help of our volunteers.
Focus on Youth works in partnership with youth shelters and Neighborhood House to put food on the tables of vulnerable community members.
Here’s a flyer with more info on the flower stand:
Below is a video about the program:
From Focus on Youth:
Our greatest need is for volunteers to help in our garden. Sunflower Farm is conveniently located on a one-acre parcel in Southwest Portland. If you would like to lend a hand with harvesting, planting, weeding, or mulching garden pathways please fill out the volunteer form (http://tiny.cc/Foy) or call/text 503-341-6878. We are open seven days a week and provide gloves and tools. No gardening experience is needed, we will teach you how to grow healthy, delicious organic fruit and vegetables.
You can also help by donating on our website using PayPal or through the Givebutter platform, (givebutter.com/foy). Thank you!
Don’t forget to support Focus on Youth this summer! Select Focus on Youth via Amazon Smile to turn a percentage of your purchases into a donation.
Since 2003, Focus on Youth has provided hands-on learning, sustainable gardening, healthy cooking classes, science and photography classes, and mentoring for over 16,000 at-risk and homeless youth. Hunger in Oregon has spiked 18% in the last two years, and one in five homeless youth report going hungry each week. Our program, Seeds of Hope is decreasing food insecurity and improving nutrition for homeless youth by teaching them where food comes from, how to grow food through hands-on activities, and the importance of eating fresh produce.
Our students grew over a ton of organic fruit and vegetables, plus they donated thousands of pounds of produce to low-income seniors through the Neighborhood House food pantry. Seeds of Hope connects youth with nature and the joy of growing their own food while giving them the ability to take on leadership roles within the community by donating food to help low-income seniors and families.
Focus on Youth is fostering community building through our partnerships with nonprofits such as New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, Neighborhood House, Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages, Hands-on Portland, Portland Service Program, and hundreds of community volunteers.
Portland, OR. The Sunflower Farm, an organic garden hosted by the nonprofit Focus on Youth, has expanded exponentially this summer, despite losing the support of its houseless youth volunteers. Founder Donna Lee Holmes said she was amazed at the willingness of the community to support one another during these tough times.
“It’s like a miracle happened,” she said. “We have had more volunteers this year than we have ever had, and it’s because people wanna channel their love and energy into something positive.”
The organization is still looking for volunteers who want a chance to connect with nature and like-minded people while they dig in the dirt. Volunteers say it’s a great place to learn something new every day. Morgan, pictured above, has been working hard on the garden since March.
This recent expansion didn’t come for free. Holmes said that at the beginning of the pandemic, the Templeton Foundation reached out with an offer to change what funding the nonprofit applied for. Since no youth volunteers were coming in, Focus on Youth decided to focus on the garden.
Selene is a volunteer at the Sunflower Farm. She started working there to get more involved with the community.
The Sunflower Farm donates its produce to the Neighborhood House and recently started donating to St. Anthony’s Church as well. Lines at food pantries have been long during the pandemic, so the extra produce is needed. Sunflower Farm is also home to 35 chickens, most of which were adopted recently to provide a good source of protein to people in need. The organization is hoping to donate over 9000 eggs by the end of the year. One thing they lack is egg cartons for transport; donations of these are appreciated.
The farm is home to lots of chickens.
Holmes hopes the farm will attract more young children and families in the coming months, as working at the garden is a tactile educational experience. This hands-on learning is even more needed as classrooms go online. “It’s as if you’re being immersed into a science book,” Holmes said. “I’d like as many children as possible to have that experience.”
A small watermelon growing at the farm.
The farm is home to a plethora of flower, vegetable, and tree species, many chickens, a resident dog, mason bees, an impressive amount of compost, and a pond where salamanders and small fish can be found.
Focus on Youth recently applied for funding to start a greenhouse so volunteers can save money by nurturing their own seedlings during the winter rather than buying them. And in a continuation of the farm’s expansion, they’ve also recently planted their first-ever batch of fall vegetables. Holmes hopes the flourishing of the garden will not only bring the community together but bring hope to all who are currently struggling.
The Sunflower Farm has many of its namesake flowers.
“What a garden represents is hope, and we all need that right now … There’s so much worry and concern about staying safe, about having food,” she said. “There’s something that’s very spiritual about digging in the earth and knowing that you’re being of service to others, there’s a certain peace that comes with that, and just a quiet joy.”
A garden is a place where all people can come together, regardless of background. The foundation of Focus on Youth is in photography and gardening, but also in cooking.
“We all need to feel that we belong somewhere, and a garden is someplace where everybody can come,” Holmes said. “Whatever background someone is, we all join in food, and food is love.”
From Focus on Youth: Focus on Youth and our program Seeds of Hope teaches sustainable gardening and photography to at-risk and homeless youth at Sunflower Farm. Learn more on the nonprofit’s website: http://focusonyouth.org
Portland, September 10th, 2015. If you couldn’t join the thousands who flocked to Pioneer Courthouse Square for The Standard’s Annual Volunteer Expo, you’re in luck. We’ve got all the information and website links to explore over 125 local nonprofits that could use your time.
A full list of links of nonprofits is at the bottom of our story.
R. Richard Crockett, (left) is the Program Operations Director & Volunteer Coordinator at Chess for Success.
Classroom Law Project is a non-profit organization of individuals, educators, lawyers, and civic leaders building strong communities by teaching students to become active citizens.
The Standard’s Volunteer Expo has repeat participants year after year, here’s a look at some nonprofits which continue to recruit volunteers:
Jenny Bedell-Stiles and Andy Meeks from Friends of Trees
talks with Casey Rhodes and Clark Hays.
Jenny Chu from Literary Arts
New Avenues For Youth volunteers are a hit every year because they dish out the free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream!
Rachel Randles from Oregon Historical Society
The Volunteers of America recruited some new volunteers!
Special Olympics Oregon has room for coaches and event volunteers.
Newspace Center for Photography promoted its multidimensional photography resource center and community hub for students, working artists, professional photographers, educators, and photo-enthusiasts of all types.
Latino Network’s Edgar Ortega
Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area had a colorful display.
The Work for Art’s Community Fund and Arts Education Fund support more than 80 arts and culture organizations every year—encompassing dance, visual arts, music, literary arts, media arts, theater, cultural arts, and arts education.
IMPACT NW drew prospective volunteers who learned that each year over 60,000 low-income children, youth, families, seniors, and adults with disabilities participate in Impact NW’s comprehensive anti-poverty programs.
The YMCA was handing out information about programs.
People who stopped by The Q Center booth were met with a friendly smile.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oregon Chapter staffers promoted their many volunteer options.
Reps from the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon explained their work on behalf of local cats and kittens.
American Red Cross volunteer recruiters had the trademark red vests!
The mission of the Make-A-Wish Oreogn Foundation® is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
Northwest Pilot Project began in 1969 as an all volunteer agency to provide basic supports for seniors at risk of losing their ability to live independently.
Miracle Theatre Group is The Northwest’s premiere Latino arts and culture organization.
Camp Fire offers opportunities for volunteers who like to work with kids.
Bridge Meadows is a multi-generation housing community serving Oregon’s vulnerable populations; foster youth, adoptive parents and elders (55+).
Here’s a list of links to charities at the The Standard’s Volunteer Expo. Please consider donating your time, and tell them PortlandSocietyPage.com sent you!
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