Like a good neighbor: Displaced youth get helping hand through partnership

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BLOOMINGTON (25 News Now) - The pandemic made it tougher on huge segments of the population, including young people forced into the streets. Their needs now include everything from mental health resources, to housing, to supplies. So a Bloomington nonprofit is working to increase those offerings, and a well known company is helping their efforts.

Wednesday, State Farm‘s annual ‘Good Neighbor Day’ coincided with the national holiday, marked down to give back to the community. It targets an area of need in the Twin Cities that continues to demand more resources, only made worse over the past few years.

This year’s choice was Project Oz, a Bloomington organization focused on helping homeless youth in the area. In the community since 1973, the demand for their offerings have grown every year. Along with their emergency shelter for children under 18 and a separate facility for 18 to 23-year-olds, they also offer counseling services and crisis intervention. Every year, they work with over 8,000 young people across the McLean and Livingston County areas to help them get back on their feet.

To help with Project Oz’s efforts, State Farm employees and staff flocked to the lobby at the company’s headquarters. There, they packed 250 bags of hygiene products and supplies for those the organization serves, along with writing notes of encouragement to add in. The turnout was so strong, all of the bags were packed within an hour.

The show of support for their cause is welcomed, as Project Oz knows the impact on those they serve is one that lasts a lifetime.

“They’re amazing, successful people in our community that are contributing every single day,” says CEO Lisa Thompson. “They come back to visit us, and tell us how important that interaction and those continued relationships that we built with them are.”

The need expands beyond just helping recipients get hygiene materials. Project Oz is also working to address the increasing need for their services. As they near their 50th anniversary, the group is working on a capital fund to provide more opportunities for young people, no matter where they come from.

“Their volunteers have come out in force,” says Thompson. “We were here this morning and they were literally lined up when we walked in.”

All month long, State Farm has encouraged acts of kindness to celebrate being a ‘good neighbor.’ But this particular day became a culmination of all their efforts.

“You have that positive act of kindness that feels good, and that helps others pay it forward, too,” says State Farm employee Kim Kaufman.

It’s also a chance for the company to reflect on its values.

“If we can continue to spotlight good neighbors and good deeds, and make a difference not only in September for Good Neighbor Month but throughout the year, then that’s a true win,” adds Kaufman.

Project Oz’s capital campaign aims to create a 2,500 square foot multipurpose area built alongside their current facility, and so far, they’re halfway to their goal. To aid them in their efforts, or to find out other ways to get involved, you can click on the link to their website here.