The Maslow Project
By Adam and Sophia Bogle
This is a success story about a young woman who was helped by the Maslow Project. And while it is your quintessential success story with the best kind of happy ending, it is only one of hundreds of stories of success that have been made possible through The Maslow Project.
What is the Maslow Project? Simply put, they are a local non-profit organization that provides advocacy and supportive services to homeless youth and their families. It is named after the psychological theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Here is a basic synopsis: The most basic physiological needs of food and shelter must be met before the basic safety needs of health, well-being and a sense of belonging can be met and only when these are met to some extent can people start to address the human need to do well at something and then to give back.
Now on to our story. Serina Quast was a junior in high school when she first heard of The Maslow Project. Her high school counsellor had noticed that Serina, after having been a really good student had dropped her grades dramatically and had basically dropped out of school. When she met with Serina to check in, she explained that her parents were going through a tough divorce and it was hard for her to be around at home so she started staying with friends and relatives. The Maslow Project definition of being homeless is any living situation that lacks fixed, adequate and regular nighttime housing. Thank goodness for counsellors that are on their game!
Maslow Project assigned Serina a Case Manager who made sure that wherever Serina was staying was safe and acted as her advocate to help her get food stamps. Serina was blown away by the level of caring and told me: “I found it surprising that there were so many people willing to help me to succeed and that my community wanted that (success) for me. Walking with my class at graduation was one of my proudest moments. I realized I did that. I put in the work.” After high school she went on to college in Portland and graduated with highest honors. Then, to bring this story up to date, Serina heard through Facebook that there was a job opening at Maslow Project and she jumped at the chance to give back. She started working the front desk and is now the Community Outreach Coordinator where she goes out to talk to people about what Maslow Project does and what it did for her. This really is the ultimate fulfillment of Maslow’s theory.
I asked her what she would like to say to other kids out there having a hard time and this is what she said: “You are not alone. There are so many people out there who care. And that we (Maslow Project) are here and that it’s not just us. There is a whole community of people that believe in this mission of supporting homeless youth and their families.” She added that “Success is different for everyone. It could mean high school, or GED or even getting away from drugs, or escaping domestic violence. My story is not really typical. The average age of kids we help is ten years old and usually it is the whole family that is experiencing homelessness.”
While the resource center is a handy place for meetings and distributing supplies, the folks at the Maslow Project aren’t just waiting for kids to walk through the door. Their focus is on reaching out to meet youth where they are. They have teams that go out on the street and they have school-based outreach with case managers and family advocates in both Jackson and Josephine counties. If you are in need of some help yourself you can call (541) 608-6868.
One of The Maslow Project’s best fundraising events is coming up October 1st: The Southern Oregon Smoked Salmon Festival. Come out to support a really effective and passionate organization that is making a huge difference in our community.
Go to www.maslowproject.com for more information.