COLORADO SPRINGS — The Off the Street breakfast returns to Colorado Springs this weekend and it raises money for the PLACE, a local shelter helping homeless youth in El Paso County.
The breakfast is the biggest fundraising event of the year for the non-profit to help homeless youth in the community. Last Thursday, the in-person breakfast was held, and this upcoming Saturday, the breakfast will be held virtually.
Part of the breakfast is sharing the inspirational story of one woman's journey at the PLACE, who was helped out of homelessness. Her name is Evelyn Reeder, and she told News5 as a youth, she went to more than 15 different foster homes over time.
"I ended up being homeless for a short amount of time. I was in and out of foster homes from the time that I was 11 to 18," said Reeder. "I was pretty wounded as a kid, I suffered from abuse and so it was really hard to trust adults."
However, Reeder said she found trust and comfort at the PLACE.
"I kind of talk about how the place helped me find my place in the speech. They taught me how to use my smarts for good instead of evil," said Reeder. "Going into a shelter is a daunting experience because it's not somewhere where you want to be, but the PLACE gets that, so when you get there, they receive you."
Reeder said the organization helped her exit homelessness, and pursue a career she loves which is being a teacher.
"I can't thank them enough, I just have so much gratitude. You think you're going in for a physical shelter, and what you really obtain is this wonderful emotional shelter from people who genuinely care," said Reeder. "That's why I chose to work with youth myself, to work with teenagers who have gone through trauma themselves, and that's why I'm so passionate about it."
Andy Petersen, the director of development at the organization said the breakfast is held under the bridge on Colorado Ave. because "sadly, there could be some of our clients that are actually sleeping under the bridge, so it really brings it home why we would hold it there."
He also mentioned for 20 years, the organization has helped with sheltering homeless youth, education and employment opportunities, and behavioral health resources. The organization also has a shelter where they can house 20 youth. For one youth to get services for one day, it costs about $108. Last year the organization served about 600 youth in El Paso County, and in nearly two decades, the organization has served more than 7,600 youth.
In November, the PLACE will also be opening a drop-in center. It'll be a safe space where youth can drop in, get food, work on a computer, do laundry, or shower. A lot of the money raised from the breakfast will also go toward opening the center.
The Place has a goal to raise $200,000 during the Off the Street breakfast. So far, the organization has raised about $155,000. The virtual breakfast will take place on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.
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