The Fall is off to special start for Ozone House. On Sept. 23, they raised over $194,000 during “An Evening with Ozone House” fundraiser presented by Masco Cabinetry and delivered by Domino’s.
Guests were treated to presentations by Ozone House’s SpeakOut group and Shawntae Harris, co-chair of Ozone House’s Millennial Board and academic advisor at Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College.
SpeakOut is comprised of youth who speak about and represent homeless youth in the community, as well as statewide and nationally. Over the past year, SpeakOut has worked with staff and students at the department of Applied Drama at EMU to turn their real-life stories into theatrical performances. Guests during the fundraising event were treated to a few of those spectacular performances.
The SpeakOut performances also included a poem by a young man named Ramone. Ramone was featured in local, state and national media two years ago because he was a homeless student at EMU. He was one of 58,000 youth nationwide who faced homelessness as a college student. There was an article in Bridge Magazine (http://gaybe.am/Tw) and another one at MLive.com (http://gaybe.am/fL). Ramone graduated from EMU in 2016 with a bachelor’s in Electronic Media and Film Studies. He is now employed as an AV technician at a local hotel resort.
Shawntae Harris’ keynote address was about hidden homelessness on college campuses. She bravely shared her story of being homelessness during college, aptly pointing out that many students, including herself, do not self-identify as homeless while experiencing extreme housing instability. Shawntae gave great examples of how she thought her life was “normal” and yet her grades were slipping away while she struggled with the reality that she did not have a consistent place to sleep as night.
Susan Allison was named the first recipient of the Open Door Award honoring the Ozone House’s dedicated volunteers. Susan follows in the footsteps of many incredibly dedicated volunteers over the years such as Ethel Lee, who was a strong advocate for Ozone House when they moved to their Washtenaw Avenue location, and Angela Williams who shows up every week for the last 24 years as crisis line volunteer, and many other countless volunteers.
Susan started volunteering with Ozone House in 2008 organizing their first fall fundraising event, “An Evening at the Farmer’s Market.” Susan didn’t stop there. Since 2008 she has been involved in every aspect of Ozone House and she has filled the role of family for both staff and for youth. Susan has been on the Board of Directors at Ozone House since 2011.
Each year Ozone House will add a new “brick” to their house in honor of an outstanding volunteer. The award will be displayed proudly in their lobby.