Rudy’s Barbershop has made it as easy as 1-2-3 to help Portland, Oregon’s homeless youth, especially the increasingly-vulnerable LGBT youth. All you have to do is shower. Well, admittedly, you have to wash your hair and body, but hopefully that some part of the shower.
Homeless youth have usually had a hellish time of it before they even spend their first night on the street, often subjected to the absolute worst people humanity has to offer. Studies show kids end up homeless because of financial or emotional neglect, they’re too old for foster care, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. The top two reasons LGBT youth are homeless is due to either being kicked out by their parents (a decision which truly baffles the mind), or they run away because of rejection at home. Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
The system is not set up to deal with homeless youth. They legally can’t work enough to support themselves and many shelters don’t have the resources or policies to admit them. As a result, homeless youth often resort to bartering sex in exchange for food or shelter, leading to, among other consequences, higher instances of HIV or AIDS than the general youth population. They lose out on education, have high rates of depression anxiety, PTSD, behavioral problems, and lack of access to medical and mental health treatment.
Hang in there: good news is coming. Rudy’s Barbershop is helping, remember? And they’re not the only ones. They’ve had a long standing partnership with Dan Savage’s organization It Gets Better Project, which works to help LGBT youth around the world that it’s going to be okay; that it will get better and inspires others to help create the change that fulfills that promise.
And now, for every purchase of Rudy’s 1-2-3 collection of shampoo, condition, and body wash, the company is donating a week’s worth of products to shelters helping Portland’s LGBT youth. Places like Outside In that provide sanctuary, both physically and mentally. They offer things like housing, education, job training, tattoo removal, as well as vital medical and mental help.
The testimonies of people whose lives have been transformed by the dedicated team at Outside In are remarkable– like a boy born in Colombia, adopted by Americans, who was later kicked out because his adoptive parents considered his homosexuality a form of mental illness. At Outside In he found a safe place to live while he got his GED and was accepted into New York University and Juilliard. A woman forced to sleep under a bridge, too afraid to seek medical care because of stigma, eventually sought help at Outside In. She’s now in medical school and volunteers her time at Outside In.
Things are getting better, but like any form of progress, it’s slow going. There is real need for places like Outside In. There are plenty of ways to support youth shelters in your area too, with donations of your time or money. But the absolute easiest way is to use Rudy’s amazing-smelling, sulfate and paraben-free products. Your skin, hair, and local youth with thank you.