Give Back at Dreamforce: Volunteer with Project Night Night
By: Kendra Robins, Founder and Executive Director, Project Night Night
Founded in 2005, Project Night Night is an innovative and award-winning San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that equips homeless and underserved children across the United States with the essentials that they need to access high-quality reading materials and to combat the fear and anxiety they may feel while homeless. In the past 10 years, Project Night Night has placed over 200,000 Night Night Packages into the eager arms of the littlest victims of homelessness.
What is a Night Night Package?
A Night Night package is a simple collection of items with a profound purpose — providing comfort at a child’s most vulnerable moment. It’s about giving a child something to hold onto at a time when they have very little.
Each Night Night package contains a new security blanket, a new book and a new stuffed animal, all in a special tote bag. Each bag is designed to be age appropriate, up to pre-teen boys and girls.
Project Night Night strives to give children something they can call their own, something that can give them that little bit of comfort, and confidence, to deal with what’s in front of them.
Every parent knows how inextricably tied their children’s happiness is to their own and each year Project Night Night receives poignant letters from grateful parents.
On Wednesday morning on the Dreamforce Plaza, Dreamforce attendees can volunteer to fill Night Night Packages for children in need.
Why Night Night is so Important
Although the Great Recession has ended, the number of sheltered children in families from 2007 to 2012 continued to increase by 12%. In 2013, there were 167,854 families using shelters in the United States. Nearly 50 percent of them were counted in just five states with California having the second highest number: New York (46,195 or 21%); California (25,094 or 11%); Florida (16,503 or 7 %); Massachusetts (12,335 or 6%); and Texas (8,857 or 4 %). Between 2007 and 2012, the number of sheltered people in families increased 53.9% in suburban and rural areas.
However, statistics don’t get to the heart of what we do. We help children in poverty: children who don’t have a book to read, a security blanket to stop them from shaking with fear, a stuffed friend to whom to talk, or a tote bag in which to take their books to and from school. When young children don’t get access to these basics, they suffer. They have a hard time feeling loved, protected, and valued. They have a hard time learning in school. They don’t feel valued.
Children in sheltered families or those living in poverty face a constellation of problems. They often lack healthy interactions, mental and physical stimulation, and a safe, stable environment in which to exist. Living on the streets, in a family car, or with family or friends in temporary accommodation, these children lack many of the essential items we associate so much with simply being a child.
How can You get Involved?
- Stop by the Dreamforce Plaza on Wednesday, October 15th between 9am-12pm to fill a Night Night Package for a child in need.
- Donate $25 at www.ProjectNightNight.org to underwrite the cost of a Night Night Package. You can do this in your own name or in honor of another. A great holiday gift!
- Donate a product from our Amazon.com Wish List, and we will place it into the arms of a homeless child.
- Spread the word! The more folks who know about us, the more homeless children we can help.
- Join us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter
Giving is so Rewarding
By far the most rewarding part of Project Night Night is receiving photos, drawings, and stories for the children who receive our Night Night Packages. I am a soft touch when it comes to children and many of the stories simply bring me to tears. One little boy refused to remove the tags from the blanket we gave him because, as he explained, “If I take-off the tags, my blanket won’t be new anymore, and I’ve never had anything new before.” Another little boy talked to the teddy bear he received from us. He told the bear his “secret” – that the boy’s mother was an alcoholic, but that the little boy assured his bear that he would keep the bear safe when the mother drank.
Project Night Night does not provide food or shelter – those items are crucial for homeless adults. Instead, we provide a way to comfort and to reduce fear in homeless children. We remind them that they are important, and we help them fall asleep with sweet dreams and with real comfort.
Much like Virginia Woolf, we at Project Night Night, dream of having a “room of one’s own.” At the moment, we do not own a physical space in San Francisco at which to build out our warehouse and volunteer operations. We hope to one day have a Project Night Night Volunteer Center where community members can roll up their sleeves to sort in-kind donations, conduct inventory, and assemble Night Night Packages. This space would also serve as a “boutique” for shelter employees and shelter residents to come to select a Night Night Package that fits their needs perfectly.
The People behind Project Night Night
Kendra Stitt Robins is the executive director and founder of Project Night Night, a mother, and a lawyer. Educated at Georgetown University, where she earned a bachelor’s, master’s and law degree, she worked as an attorney in San Francisco after graduation. Kendra left her firm in 2004 to run Project Night Night.
Jessica Silverman Bryan is the deputy director of Project Night. Her responsibilities include managing the organization’s volunteer base and the corresponding Adopt a Night Night Package program. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Middlebury College and worked in development and event planning roles at Harvard University and the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business before joining Project Night Night.
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