“Fremont Youth attend Action Assembly on Housing and Mental Health”

Dear Fremont Family:

Last Sunday, February 26, following our wonderful potluck and All-Church Conversation, Fremont youth attended an Action Assembly hosted by the Leaven Land and Housing Coalition at First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland. We joined over 400 people who gathered to organize around the question, “Who gets to thrive in Oregon?” We heard stories from a diverse group of people including a high school student from the SE Youth Collective about the challenges of mental health and the stress around a lack of affordable housing.

Myself and another youth parent, Jenn Mannhard, accompanied 6 of our youth to the event where we joined about 20 other youth from the NE Youth Collective. It was an exciting event, and the presence of so many young people from around the city and surrounding counties added an energy to the gathering. In the picture above, you can see District Two Commissioner, Shusheela Jayapal (far right sitting at the table) who spoke at the event and promised her support for the Land and Housing Coalition’s plan to help nearly 40 faith communities in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties build housing and/or shelters on their land.

One story that left a particular impact on our youth was the story of Owen. Owen was an unhoused man who had taken up shelter on the property of Westeminster Presbyterian. The church regularly offered Owen assistance, but mostly, he wanted to be left alone. One woman at Westminster named Kate took it upon herself to check on Owen only to find that one day Owen had passed away right there on the church property. The story was moving because it was haunting. How do we begin to address the overwhelming lack of resources for our unhoused? What can we do other than simply mourn the struggle and hardship of those living outside? What happens when our offers for help aren’t received or aren’t enough? We came away from the event with a commitment to keep organizing and with the hope of witnessing the power of what can happen when people of faith come together for action.

It was a great day to be with our youth at Fremont! We have an amazing group of teenagers in our church. We should all be very proud.

Grace and peace,