AROUND TOWN: Community Fills the Street for Urban Peak and Homeless Youth

By Navarro, Linda | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), July 31, 2014 | Go to article overview

AROUND TOWN: Community Fills the Street for Urban Peak and Homeless Youth


Navarro, Linda, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


By Linda Navarro, The Gazette, linda.navarro@gazette.com

They arrived en masse, 560 strong, on the sunny early morning on July 24and they shut down an entire city block. The crowd filled a giant white party tent on Vermijo Avenue between Weber Street and Wahsatch Avenue.

It was a morning for the community to go onto the street to raise money, almost $69,000, for Urban Peak Colorado Springs, which provides services to and helps get homeless youth off the street. The inspiring morning, in city councilwoman Jan Martin's words, "says so much about this city."

Martin and others would later learn the story of the used tomato container that the nonprofit's executive director Shawna Kemppainen shared on Facebook as her favorite donation that morning. As people entered the "Off The Street" tent, a woman rushed up and handed an Urban Peak board member the tomato container, which now contained loose change. She said her children heard about the breakfast on the radio and wanted to help kids who are homeless. They handed their mom their savings: $11.40. "Simple generosity is beautiful," posted Kemppainen.

Another touching moment was when a mother and her 7-year-old son spotted the big tent and walked up to the registration table. Told that the breakfast helped homeless kids, the mother dug out several wadded-up dollar bills from her backpack. Although the event had just ended, Michelle Talarico and the Picnic Basket crew, in the midst of cleaning up, quietly seated the family and brought plates of hot food, fruit and glasses of orange juice. Only the caterer and a few other people nearby knew that, like the Urban Peak youth, the mother and son were homeless.

The fact that homelessness can happen to anyone was a theme that morning, and a difficult story was shared publicly for the first time by local developer and philanthropist Chuck Murphy. …

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