Portola Valley based Young Men’s Service League works with LifeMoves on Ultimate Gift project

by Ari Krane on December 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken thousands of local jobs, and many people have been forced into homelessness, staying in their cars overnight. But in many neighborhoods that isn’t a safe option, so LifeMoves and the Portola Valley-based Alpine Chapter of Young Men’s Service League set out to make a positive change.

“LifeMoves is a non-profit that works in both San Mateo and Santa Clara County fighting to help end the cycle of homelessness,” said Chelsea Tercero, LifeMoves Program Director for the Safe and Supportive sites in San Jose. “The agency has grown from traditional shelter programs to also launching new community engagement programs like safe parking and motel voucher programs for families and individuals.”

LifeMoves and the Alpine Chapter of Young Men’s Service League partnered for this year’s Ultimate Gift project. Young Men’s Service League (YMSL) is a non-profit organization that initiates and encourages young men and their mothers to pursue philanthropic involvement in their community and provides an opportunity to enhance mother/son relationships. Each year, the group unites in a substantial community service initiative called the Ultimate Gift.

Over 100 YMSL chapter members were able to safely participate in the project prior to the event from home, or at varying intervals onsite in mid-November, transforming a LifeMoves safe parking lot in San Jose. At these safe parking lots, LifeMoves provides resources like bathrooms, hand washing stations, food, individual case management, and a night security guard to protect the homeless living in their cars.

The goal for this year was to make the parking lot feel more like a community space by adding tables, benches, plants, and art to make the area feel more welcoming and create community.

YMSL mom and son, Amy and Trevor Heinz, worked in-person to sanitize and redecorate the parking lot. “Over a matter of hours, I saw the power of mothers and sons working together to totally transform a community space. It was really heartwarming to see teenage boys spending their Saturday in service to others,” Amy said.

Alpine Chapter members, Brayden Stroh and Carter Jung, built benches for the community and both expressed feelings of fulfillment and enjoyment after their experience with Ultimate Gift. “I found it really fun to give back to my community,” Carter said.

“The Ultimate Gift project gave the LifeMoves safe parking program a new light. The space is incredibly warm and welcoming,” Tercero said. “The area provides dignity for those sleeping in their vehicles to have a space to eat a meal and meet with their case manager.”

The author, Ari Krane, is a sophomore in high school. He is a second year YMSL member. Top photo by Nicoloas Tidmarsh; second photo by Amy Heinz

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