With schools closed and most businesses either reducing their hours or ceasing operations altogether, it’s safe to say that our entire community is feeling the effects of COVID-19. Our YOTO students are no exception. In addition to the challenges they are facing with school closures, YOTO kids are finding themselves out of work and in need of additional economic support.

To address these additional needs, Youth On Their Own has established the YOTO COVID Emergency Fund to provide urgent financial and basic needs assistance to YOTO youth during the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite what is going on around us, YOTO’s goal remains the same: to ensure youth experiencing homelessness have the resources they need to stay in school and graduate!

We are enormously grateful to everyone who has contributed to the Emergency Fund so far, and at a time when we all need a bit of good news, we’d like to highlight a group of YOTO Family members who have gone above and beyond to help YOTO youth – the SaddleBrooke Women’s Golf Association (SBWGA)!

The charge was led by SBWGA member Carol Johnson (CJ), who first learned about YOTO almost a year ago at a golf luncheon. A YOTO graduate shared her story of caring for her younger sisters while also attending school in the absence of parental support. CJ recalls being moved to tears of joy after hearing the amazing progress the young woman has made with her education thanks to YOTO’s help. “When our community was ordered to ‘shelter in place’ because of the coronavirus pandemic, I thought about the students in the YOTO program and how their jobs in the service industry would be coming to a screeching halt. I decided that it was time to take action, and a fundraising challenge seemed appropriate. This group of golfing women were already committed to the ideals and principles of YOTO,” CJ explains.

CJ brought her idea to Shellie Pierce, President of the SBWGA, with an incredibly generous offer to match up to $1,000 in donations made by the club. Shellie was incredibly supportive of CJ’s idea to raise money for YOTO students and had no trouble getting her board’s approval. SBWGA members were also eager to rally for the cause!

Within just ten days, her match was exceeded, raising $2,650 to provide emergency support for YOTO students!

SBWGA President Shellie notes that many of the women in their group are either retired educators, school administrators, or have worked with students either as an aid or as a parent. Shellie herself is a retired school principal. What all of these women share is a deep love and compassion for kids. Shellie notes, “I have witnessed what happens to students with no support – whether that’s emotional, physical, or financial.”

The past month has been tough for all of us. The incredible women at the SBWGA along with so many others in the YOTO Family have shown us their generosity and kindness during these difficult and uncertain times. Thank you ALL for your support and thank you for showing YOTO students their community is here for them when they need it most!

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