A2Awesome just made our second $1,000 award. This time, the paper bag full of cash went to Ozone House, for the purchase of exercise equipment to be used by the homeless, runaway and at-risk youth they counsel, house and otherwise support. Following is the transcript of a quick conversation with Quinn Phillips, the Ozone House representative who submitted the funding request to A2Awesome. [Quinn is pictured at the right, in the above photo, with A2Awesome Trustees Omari Rush, Linh Song and Hans Masing] If, after reading through our exchange, you’d like to know more, you can find additional details at the A2Awesome site.
Oh, and congratulations to Ozone House! They’re an awesome organization, and I’m super happy that we were able to help them do this. $1,000 isn’t much, but it will really help improve the lives of hundreds of young people over the coming years, as they fight to overcome the obstacles that have been placed before them.
MARK: How will you be spending the $1,000?
QUINN: First of all, thank you so much to the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation and their generous donors. It’s a brilliant concept, and we are so lucky to have community members willing to put all this work into our local chapter.
We will be creating a youth fitness room in the basement of Ozone House’s main location in Ann Arbor. My proposal was to outfit the room with a treadmill, stationary bike, dumbbell set, yoga equipment, gym mat, heavy bag and speed bag.
MARK: Why is this important to the young people that Ozone serves?
QUINN: Our young clients are facing an overwhelming number of challenges. This often leads to stress, anger and depression. It is amazing to see how quickly their moods can improve when they have opportunities for physical activities that they enjoy. These are kids who could never afford to take a fitness class, or become a member of a gym. Before coming to Ozone House, they often lack access to nutritious food, and positive recreational activities. Having our own work out space is a wonderful opportunity to let youth blow off some steam in a place where they will be safe and supported. With this space, we’ll be able to bring in local trainers and experts to teach the kids exercise and self-defense techniques. I’m especially excited about the boxing gear, because I’ve recently taken up mixed-martial arts. I’d love to show them how fun and stress-relieving a heavy bag workout can be.
MARK: What, in your opinion, made your application Awesome?
QUINN: I think this project is awesome because it will help so many young people in our community. Each year Ozone House provides emergency housing to over 130 youth, and ongoing services to 300 youth and families. I’d like to make the workout space as accessible as possible for our clients, but even those who don’t get a chance to use it will benefit from this grant. Having a workout space at Ozone House will save the agency a lot of time and money. Every dollar we save on transportation and activities can be put directly into other services for local families. I love that this generous gift from our community will still be making a difference in people’s lives years from now.
MARK: Can you tell us a little about Ozone, its mission, and the current challenges that the organization faces?
QUINN: Ozone House is a community-based, nonprofit agency which helps runaway, homeless and at-risk youth lead safe, healthy, and productive lives through intensive intervention and prevention services. All our services are free of charge.
Many people contact Ozone House through our 24 hour crisis line. Our first priority is making sure the person is safe and able to meet their immediate needs, such as food and housing. From there we determine if they could best be helped through counseling, case management, or our residential services.
Ozone House offers a two week residential counseling program for runaway and homeless youth called Safe Stay. We provide shelter for up to six youth at a time, between the ages of 10 and 17. At Safe Stay, they receive family counseling, life skills training ,and other supportive services. Ozone House also has a transitional living program, Miller House, for youth ages 17 to 20. Miller House focuses on academic success, career services and independent living.
Though Ozone House serves all youth regardless of identity, we offer a lot of support to LGBTQ youth. I co-facilitate the newly renamed Pride Zone program (formerly Queer Zone), a weekly support group for LGBTQ and questioning youth ages 13 to 20. We meet Wednesday nights at the Ypsilanti Ozone House.
As you mentioned, Ozone House has had to adapt to cuts in non-profit funding in the past few years. Funding concerns have led to recent changes our Ypsilanti Youth Drop-In Center, now called the Ypsilanti Ozone House. We’ve had to reduce the number of unstructured hours when youth can “drop-in”, but still offer daily hot meals, computer access, showers, laundry, case management, and career services free of charge.
DO YOU HAVE AN AWESOME IDEA?
If you have an awesome idea of your own, please consider applying for a grant. All you have to do is click here and fill out the submission form to get the ball rolling.
And please share this post with all of your brilliant, creative, and visionary friends in S.E. Michigan. We have money to give, and we’d love to know if there are ambitious, inspiring ideas out there where $1,000 could be creatively leveraged to really make a difference.
A2 Awesome is organized under the banner of the Boston-based Awesome Foundation. The stated purpose of the local group, according to our chairwoman, Lisa Dengiz, is “to have fun by providing streamlined seed funding for creative projects that will bring surprise, delight and joy to the community.” The organization intends to make one grant a month for the foreseeable future. All grants will be in the amount of $1,000.
Chapter trustees contribute their own personal funds toward the $1,000, no-strings-attached grant each month, to an awesome project that promises to make life better. In addition to me and Lisa, trustees include Dick Soble, Paul Saginaw, Jeff Meyers, Linh Song, Heather MacKenzie, Monique Deschaine, Hans Masing, Alice Liberson, Omari Rush, Tanya Luz and Larry Gant.
Created in 2009 in Boston, the Awesome Foundation now has chapters in over 20 cities across the globe. In addition to the new Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti chapter, there are Awesome Foundation outposts in both Detroit and Grad Rapids. Projects funded have included efforts in a wide range of areas including technology, arts and social good.