Their Needs Come First
Our Ark is not a typical homeless outreach organization. Danny Burkett founded the nonprofit two years ago specifically to help street kids that he felt were not being served well elsewhere. “Our young people need to feel the love of home and to feel the love of caring and hope,” Burkett said. “So that’s what I want to bring towards them.” His approach diverges from other organizations in the way he and his staff build relationships with youth. He favors creating closer, familial-like relationships that stretch the boundaries of what some others consider best practices.
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Team Member Experiences
Outreach team members are trained to reach out to homeless youth in Thurston County for the purpose of distributing gallon snack bags, medical and hygiene supplies, resource information, and other survival essentials.
Team members work on an assigned schedule to provide consistency to our outreach program and build trust with those in need. Team members commit to 4-12 hours per month with a minimum of one weekly shift.
Volunteer outreach creates an important face-to-face contact with the people we serve, and the program goes wherever there is need in Thurston County.
Trauma and Life on the Streets
Individuals living on the streets have often experienced trauma, whether it occurred before their homelessness, or as a result of it. Our street outreach members listen when a youth discloses trauma, modeling compassion, empathy, and understanding. When appropriate, our policy is to refer individuals to trauma response resources that best fit the situation, which may be medical facilities, mental health services, law enforcement, or other specialized organizations. Our team will follow-up with these individuals to stay connected and address their needs.
Our Ark team members are from all age groups and backgrounds, including students, veterans, retires, community groups, church congregations, and businesses. This diversity helps us to provide the best community-centered services possible. As we expand our outreach and other services, we have a variety of opportunities for groups and individuals to join our mission. Group projects in collaboration with our outreach teams are an excellent way to educate the community on the occurrence of youth homelessness. Not only can you make a difference as a volunteer, you can BE the difference.
“Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
― Mike Yankoski