Portlanders Causing Change: WEW Youth Nonprofit Panel
April 4, 2016
This year, St. Mary’s Academy held its first Women’s Empowerment Week (WEW), a week centered on diversity, community, and empowerment. During the week, the WEW committee hosted a Youth Nonprofit panel, which included representatives from three non-profits originally started in Portland by young people inspired to evoke change in their community.
The first non-profit represented was Youth Ending Slavery, an organization that took root at SMA. It began as a small committee at SMA created by Allison Nasson, and soon budded into an official, completely student-run 501(c)3 non-profit in the summer of 2014 under the leadership of Clare McLeod (a current SMA student). Since its creation, Youth Ending Slavery has opened several chapters in schools around Portland that all work towards the same cause: combatting modern day slavery and sex trafficking. The non-profit has organized walks, events, and rallies that are mainly attended by youth and other like-minded community members.
The second organization that participated in the panel was Abby’s Closet, a non-profit that specializes in collecting and distributing used prom dresses for young people in need. It was founded by a mother and a daughter who, together, conceived the idea after cleaning out a closet and finding a prom dress. They didn’t want to throw away an item with a great deal of sentimental value, and instead wanted to create a way to pass it on to somebody else. Since its creation in 2004, Abby’s Closet has hosted several events where formal dresses and accessories are distributed to anyone who needs a dress for a special occasion and would not otherwise be able to afford one.
The last non-profit featured was Camions of Care, an organization that focuses mainly on the distribution of feminine hygiene products to those in need. Their website states that they “strive to form a support network centered on helping the needs of the homeless through tangible resources or connections to our partnering organizations.” Women’s Equality Week at St. Mary’s hosted an event through Camions of Care, during which people were invited to come and create care packages filled with feminine hygiene products that would be sent to those in need.