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Organization continues to bridge the gap for area youth
While most people are being diligent about protecting themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak, Nick Gabriel is looking to help others.
“People are closer to being on the street than you think,” Gabriel said. “Losing one paycheck is dire enough, and we are well beyond that.”
Gabriel is the executive director of Hope-U Foundation, and started the non-profit organization with the goal of assisting the community’s disconnected youth between the ages of 16-24 who are neither working or in school.
Gabriel defines disconnected youth as those who aren’t working and aren’t in school. This population might have a place to stay and food supplied to them but nothing is concrete. He went on to say many college-age students might have tuition payments worked out but paying for an apartment or food is not as thoroughly planned.
“This population has been hit hard,” he said. “It’s a struggle.”
According to the Labor Department, this is the second straight week of millions of new layoffs, and a record 6.65 million Americans filed first-time jobless claims.
“Our goal is to remain focused and continue to remove financial barriers for displaced kids,” Gabriel said. “We are working the frontlines to change lives.”
Hope U works to end homelessness, hunger and unemployment for young people in Hampton Roads. Gabriel’s goal is to help their clients achieve independence and sustainable employment through a reliable support system.
“We have 35,000 disconnect youth in Hampton Roads,” Gabriel said. “Kids are displaced from school. The online learning is also a barrier, and they can’t go to work.”
Gabriel has already helped many of his clients bridge the gap during this COVID-19 crisis. He has even expanded his efforts by helping a single mom with five children.
“She couldn’t access her online curriculum for school,” Gabriel said, “and she had spent the last of her money on rent.”
Meanwhile, Gabriel is also looking out for his staff. Hope-U has cancelled all activities, and staff are working from home, when possible.
“We are surviving,” he said, “but when your goal is to help people in life-changing ways, you can’t just go home and forget about it.”
Hope-U offers apprenticeship programs, the option to receive a high school diploma or GED, as well as independent learning skills for children in foster care. There are also vocational training programs offered to give young people marketable trades.
Gabriel said the organization is in need of new laptops, but mainly could use monetary donations to help bridge the gap for their clients.
Hope U is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed for the sole purpose of helping youth in the Hampton Roads area.
For more information on becoming a Hope-U partner and helping the young people of Hampton Roads, please call (757)227-5444.
To help Hope-U purchase laptops for youth to continue their learning or to help with other needs-based assistance for a young person during the Coronavirus crisis, please DONATE here.