San Jose teenagers raise funds to help Unity Care’s foster youth impacted by COVID-19 crisis

Neha and her brother Eshan

San Jose teenagers raise funds to help Unity Care’s local foster youth impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Teen siblings from San Jose demonstrate human kindness and leadership by hosting a fundraiser to raise awareness and $5,000 to help Unity Care’s foster youth who have been impacted by the coronavirus shelter-in-place order.

Neha, (a 16-year-old junior at Presentation High School) and her brother Eshan (a 13-year-old 8th grader at Challenger School who will be attending Bellarmine College Preparatory this Fall) have already raised over $2,000 for impacted foster youth in our community, and they are working towards a goal of $5,000.

Two years ago, Unity Care, a San Jose-based non-profit providing supportive transitional housing to emerging young adult foster youth, partnered with the local students for the first time on a fundraiser to provide bicycles for teen foster youth. Over the past two years, these two students raised $2,682 through a Together We Rise platform, which they then used to build 28 new bicycles at home for foster youth.

Neha and Eshan are both active members in their community. The immediate need for masks during this crisis prompted them to sew masks at home to donate to hospitals. In conjunction with the San Jose Public Library System, they have also begun 3D printing face masks and face shields to donate to local hospitals, along with conducting virtual workshops and creating a website and YouTube channel to teach CAD and 3D printing to students at home.

Beyond all of these projects, Neha says, “our focus remains on raising awareness for the immense need for foster youth who have been greatly impacted due to the loss of hourly jobs and are at risk of becoming homeless.”

They reached out and worked with Together We Rise, a non-profit which mobilizes volunteers to donate goods to support foster youth, to set up the organization’s first personalized fundraising website for displaced foster youth affected by COVID-19. “We worked to ensure that the funds we raised would go to Unity Care, so that they can use the money to help local foster youth remain safely housed,” said Eshan.

The student’s current goal of $5,000 is larger than any of their previous fundraisers. According to Unity Care founder and CEO Andre Chapman, “it costs at least $500 per month to provide housing and meet the basic needs of transitional age foster youth in our care.” While the money they attempt to raise will surely help a number of foster youth, the organization is in greater need of support.

Unity Care, like many nonprofits on the frontlines providing safety-net services, is experiencing challenges from unplanned expenses associated with the preparations for and addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. The organization provides affordable supportive transitional housing, food, and other basic necessities to over 150 emerging and former foster youth ages 16-24 in Northern California.

The agency estimates it will expend an unplanned $270,000 over the next five months and has been working to secure emergency funding through local foundations and individual donations. The organization is also working in partnership with many corporate, community partners and individuals to support the basic needs of the youth in their care. Volunteers have been donating essential items such as toiletries, food, move-in kits, laptops and face masks so that these young people may stay safe during the shelter-in-place order.

“Giving back to our community is something that we strongly believe in. We really want all of the youth in our community to have a fair opportunity and we want to help support our community’s most vulnerable foster youth during this crisis,” said Neha.

You can help these students and Unity Care support foster youth by donating to their fundraising site here.

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