My name is Kayla. I’m a psychology major at Dominican University of California, and the newest intern here at Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity (AHO), a 20-year-old multi-award-winning nonprofit in Marin, whose mission is unhoused, at-risk and sex-trafficked teens and young adults ages 16 to 25. When seeking an internship, Zara Babitzke, MA, the founder, and executive director of the AHO program immediately caught my eye, because she was formerly homeless. As a former youth in crisis myself, who then went on to work with youth in crisis as I got older, continuing to work with those most vulnerable in the community is exactly why I chose to go back to school to pursue psychology. Grassroots, locally run and funded organizations like AHO are the lifeblood of a society, where the staff has all experienced being homeless.

Through both lived and anecdotal experience I’ve learned and seen how easy it can be to fall through the cracks of social services, especially when funding, training, and resources are often dependent on politics and their politicians; many of which have never been in a situation that would call for such services or see what they do. This leads to a lack of understanding of the importance these services provide, and the cracks get wider. This is where local support like AHO comes in which is run by people who have experienced firsthand the need for the services AHO provides.

I am more than excited to be a part of AHO and this process to learn as much as possible about the AHO community of at-risk, unhoused, sex-trafficked teens and young adults ages 16 to 25 Part of my role as an AHO intern will be weekly blog updates about future events and sharing with you the experience of the inner workings of AHO and its connections to AHO’s 185-member Alliance for Youth service network partners of doctors, dentists, attorneys, trauma therapists, and other professionals, businesses, faith communities and individuals that donate their time and expertise pro bono to AHO’s youth and organization. AHO has created this unique network to engage the community into the solution to prevent youth homelessness in Marin.

This week my meeting with Zara was spent discussing summer goals of outreach into alternative schools in Marin and talking over goals for my role within the mission of AHO and being a part of community meetings and events.

Come celebrate Pride Month with us at College of Marin’s Pride event on June 25th from 5pm to 8pm. We will have a booth at the event with information about the services that we can provide to those seeking assistance.

Until next time,