Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) is once again hosting its one-of-a-kind awareness and fundraising event One Cold Night, and is looking for participants. The event will take place on Friday, Nov. 8.
One Cold Night is an event where sponsored “sleepers” spend the night sleeping outdoors, in solidarity with the approximately 650 young people who do so on a daily basis.
“Participating in One Cold Night is an act of solidarity. It’s a demonstration to homeless young people that you care — deciding that you can’t stay indoors while so many kids remain vulnerable outside. It is a bold act that leverages community leadership and recognition to shine a light on those who too often remain unseen,” said SAY CEO Katrina Thurman in a statement.
According to SAY, youth homelessness increased by 29% in Sonoma County last year, and unaccompanied young people represent 22% of the homeless population. Nine percent of homeless youth reside in North County (approximately 57) and 11% reside in West County (approximately 69), according to the 2019 Sonoma County Point-In-Time Homeless Census and Survey. The largest number of homeless youth — 60% or 397 — live in Santa Rosa.
“The young people we sleep out for may be escaping years of physical abuse, a dangerous human trafficking ring, a drug-addicted parent, a house overflowing with rage, or may have ‘aged-out’ of the foster care system with little to no resources for self-sufficiency. And some we know are still fighting to break into the post-fire rental market while going to school and working multiple jobs,” said Thurman in a statement.
Sleepers must be 18 years or older, although children ages 14 and older may participate with a parent. Sleepers must raise a minimum of $2,500 (and additional $500 if you are sleeping out with your child), though SAY does offer assistance with getting the fundraising campaign underway, including a training session on digital fundraising and a toolkit.
“Every dollar raised by (sleepers and their) networks goes directly to getting young people off the streets, out of human trafficking and connected with caring adults and supportive services,” said Thurman in a statement.
The event kicks off with One Cold Gathering at the SAY Dream Center, and then participants spend the night outdoors at the Santa Rosa Junior College. There is a post even reflection session the next morning after breakfast.
SAY will provide sleeping bags and snacks, but anything else should be brought by the sleepers. After the event the sleeping bags will be cleaned and provided to homeless youth.