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East Bay Woman Provides Place of Healing for Homeless Youth

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- An East Bay woman with a heart for homeless is providing a place of healing -- and an innovative housing solution -- for young people.

While young homeless people create mosaics in a free art class, something often stirs inside of their hearts and minds. It's a transformation Sally Hindman has seen again and again.

Hindman founded Youth Spirit Artworks -- a job-training program for unhoused and underserved youth -- in Berkeley in 2007.

"Art is a really strong vehicle for dealing with trauma," Hindman said.

Participant Angel Brinston appreciates expressing herself without judgment.

"I like that I'm able to be free and able to be myself," Brinston said.

Art classes are an integral part of Youth Spirit Artworks. The interfaith job training program helps 200 young people a year earn a living wage.

They choose among several vocational pathways, from entrepreneurship and marketing to teaching and community organizing.

"We see youth who are near suicide a lot, who feel their lives have no meaning," Hindman explained.

Her program provides a place where they are seen, heard, and empowered.

"My calling as a Quaker minister really involves being an ally for young people, helping facilitate youth becoming powerful and powerfully being themselves," Hindman added.

That feeling has led to the nation's Tiny Homes Empowerment Village led by young people. Youth Spirit Artworks participants came up with the idea for the village in 2017.

Their vision for 100 tiny homes for Bay Area unhoused youth became a reality this year when the first set of two dozen tiny homes opened in East Oakland.

Rossi De Lozada helped build the homes, paint murals for the project, and was among the first to move in.

He had been homeless on and off since his birth.

"I've been staying at friends' and family's houses, kind of couch surfing," he said.

And now, living in a tiny home?

"It kind of means everything to me," he said.

Tiny House Village manager Angel Griffin says the project's success also reflects Hindman's commitment to the young leaders.

"Sally is half human, half amazing," Griffin said.

Social worker Leah Wilson agrees.

"Sally is a jack of all trades. She sees a need, she tries her hardest to meet that need," said Wilson.

So for helping young people find healing, housing, and a new start through Youth Spirit Artworks, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Sally Hindman.

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