Canopy Housing Foundation: “Helping people find their way home”

By Brenda Hayden, 2019 Association/Canopy MLS President

At our “Opening Hearts, Opening Doors” grants luncheon, featured speaker Kathy Izard said this about our Canopy Housing Opportunity Foundation:

“I love how this foundation is helping people find their way home.”

I do, too.

The comment from Kathy means a lot. She played a big role in establishing Moore Place, an apartment community run by The Urban Ministry Center. The Druid Hills site houses chronically homeless individuals who receive support services to help them improve their lives. Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units and now has 120 as of early 2019.

At the luncheon on Sept. 4, Canopy Housing Foundation distributed more than $90,000. About 150 attended the event at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Grants went to eight regional Habitat chapters, 16 community grants recipients (a foundation record) and to The Relatives, the beneficiary of our Strides for Shelter Run/Walk on June 22.

YES Award, The Relatives

And as amazing as this sounds — this is only a portion of what Canopy Housing Foundation has been up to this year. We established a new award called “YES,” which stands for “Youth Excellence in Service.” Our first award, also given at the luncheon, went to two sisters who founded and run a club at Monroe High School that focuses on healthy relationships, including dating ones.

While that may not seem unusual for teenagers, this is: The White sisters, Mykia, 17, and Zarriah, 15, formed the Turning Point Teen Club as an outgrowth of having lived in a domestic violence shelter. They, their mom and other siblings lived at the shelter after escaping violence and sexual abuse in their home.

It was impressive that Mykia and Zarriah were motivated to do something — to make something happen to benefit someone else. These are our future leaders, and we need to encourage them. The sisters received plaques and a $500 contribution to a charity of their choice. They chose the organization that helped their family survive violence and abuse, Turning Point, in Monroe.

Also recognized at the luncheon was our Strides for Shelter event, which raised an impressive $25,222.22 after expenses. We presented a check in that amount to The Relatives, which provides housing and resources to homeless and runaway children. The money is going for a better van. The old one, with more than 100,000 miles on it, broke down a lot and made youngsters late for school and appointments.

At the luncheon, representatives from The Relatives didn’t know the check would be as large as it was, allowing them to purchase a van right away. “I’m overwhelmed,” Trish Hobson, the group’s executive director, told the crowd. “It’s amazing. We are grateful, grateful, grateful.”

Website, Pearl Society

Two other focuses of Canopy Housing Foundation this year have been creating a new website and establishing a new fundraising initiative, the Pearl Society.

The website, slated to debut early October, will have its own address apart from the Association’s website, giving it a public-facing presence. The site shares our foundation story in a visual, engaging and inclusive way. The site has video capability, shows smiling Realtor® volunteers and contains plenty of information. It also allows people with visual limitations to use assistive devices to access the site.

Another important emphasis this year at Canopy Housing Foundation is our Pearl Society. This is a special group of 100 foundation donors who are elevating us to the $1 million endowment level. We are 80% of the way toward a $200,000 goal for these major donors.

The name, Pearl Society, honors our new building on the edge of Pearl Street Park, a park that was once part of the African-American community of Brooklyn, a Second Ward neighborhood ended by urban renewal in the 1960s. Thanks to cooperation among leaders with our building project, midtown’s redevelopment and local government, the park is being renovated and has a new road beside it, Pearl Park Way.

Inside the front door of our new building will be a sculpture honoring these major donors to the Pearl Society. Each donor’s name will be on a key that hangs on the art piece, which evokes housing (a shotgun house, common in Brooklyn; and the keys) as well as the region’s tree canopy. We should have the art, which is by well-known artist Shaun Cassidy, in place before the end of the year.

It will be a celebratory touch to a memorable year for Canopy Housing Foundation.