On June 23, 2016, First Place for Youth staff, supporters, and local community members came together to celebrate the grand opening of our beautiful new office space in downtown San Jose. It was such a thrill to see so many people turn out for this event that solidified our expansion into Santa Clara County, our sixth expansion county and an important location as we continue our statewide policy efforts to increase access to opportunity. Since our work in the county began in November 2015, First Place has given 30 young people a place they can call home.
Open house guests had the opportunity to tour the space, thoughtfully designed by Michael Emley, and participate in Program Expo. Facilitated by staff and young people, the Expo gave visitors insight into First Place’s services and allowed them to share helpful education and employment resources and words of wisdom and inspiration for program participants. These activities were followed by a brief formal program.
Sam Cobbs, First Place CEO, opened this program with a brief introduction to the mission and goals of First Place. He was then presented with a certificate of recognition honoring First Place’s work in Santa Clara County by Domenic Longarini, a representative of Assemblywoman Nora Campos.
Támar Thomas, a graduate of First Place, shared her story and experiences in My First Place. She spoke about her continued strong connections with members of her support team and her ongoing pursuit of her career and educational goals. Támar, who had experienced homelessness before coming to First Place, is currently working toward her bachelor’s degree, employed full-time, and living in her own apartment.
The day also served as the official introduction of Sherri Shaner, the new Regional Executive Director for Santa Clara County. Sherri previously served as the Development Director for Resource Area for Teaching. She takes over from Aila Malik, who had acted as Interim ED while our search was underway and who was instrumental in establishing operations in the county.
We’re grateful for the warm welcome we have received, and we look forward to continuing to grow and strengthen our relationships in the community to better serve our young people. Thank you to all our supporters for helping to light the way for foster kids in Santa Clara County.