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Life House lectures celebrate 25 years

The Life House building on West First Street offers many services to homeless teens. Coins can be dropped off here during the Clean Out Your Couch week. (Photo by Ryley Graham)

Life House, an organization that provides resources to local homeless and street youth, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. To commemorate the milestone, Life House has been hosting numerous events throughout the year to raise money and awareness for their organization. One of these events is a six-part lecture series aimed at dismantling myths about homelessness.

"We try to build some compassion in our community for what we think are its most vulnerable members," said Maude Dornfeld, executive director of Life House.

The fourth lecture in the series was held on Tuesday morning at the Youth Drop-In Center. It was entitled "What's with all the tattoos" and revolved around different aspects of having tattoos, and focused on the use of tattoos as a survival tactic. Dornfeld says that tattoos, facial piercings and clothes can act as armor for youth on the streets.

"We talk about street respect and how it's really about having a strong offense as a defense mechanism," Dornfeld said.

The first lecture given by Dornfeld in the series was called, "That doesn't happen here, right?" in which she discussed the extent to which homelessness and sex-trafficking occur in the community. This was followed by a lecture about the barriers to finding a steady job as a homeless person, and one on the problems that come with using scared-straight tactics with homeless youth.

"The next lecture is 'Dirty money' on Oct. 18, where we will talk about how and why kids get sucked into the sex and drug trade," Dornfeld said. "And the last one, 'It's not only about housing,' will be on Dec. 13."

"It's not only about housing" will discuss the long term comprehensive services that are required to get someone out of homelessness. Life House provides many of those services, according to Dornfeld, such as wellness and alternative education programs.

"We help kids finish high school or get their GED," Dornfeld said. "We also help them get jobs and we provide on-site paid job training."

In addition to the lectures, Life House is hoping to raise $250,000 by the end of the year as part of their 25th anniversary. They are doing this one coin at a time with their monthly Clean Out Your Couch week. For one week every month they are encouraging people to bring their spare change to the Life House building, 102 W. First St., and add it to their collection jar. The next Clean Out Your Couch week is Aug. 22-26.

"We have a big blue jar that we are hoping to film by the end of the year," Dornfeld said. "We will be having a big Clean Out Your Couch event in September."

Aside from donating change, community members can lend a hand to Life House by donating food and hygiene products, cooking meals at the Drop-In Center, or assisting in service projects.

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