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Helping At-Risk Youth Stand on Their Own Feet at Spectrum

Spectrum Sleep out Celebration

Mo, short for Mohammad, was raised by Palestinian parents as a refugee in Lebanon, where his brother was bombed at the age of ten. Now, he’s a refugee in the United States seeking asylum—and a place to land on his feet.

Spectrum Youth & Family Services is one of Vermont’s safety nets to support youth like Mo. Each year, they provide 1,500 teenagers, young adults, and their family members with housing, free meals, counseling, life skills and job training, and other crucial services.

As Mo shared, “What Spectrum helped me find was lawyers, place to sleep, friends, job, health care, food.”

Stories like Mo’s are why VSECU has partnered with Spectrum since 2016 and has been a regular sponsor of their annual Sleep Out.

The Spectrum Sleep Out started in 2011 with 40 people raising money and sleeping outside for one night in solidarity with homeless youth. In 2022, more than 550 people, including VSECU staff, slept outside on a March night and raised over $381,000 to help homeless and at-risk youth become independent and build their future success.

Over the years, we’re proud to have enabled nearly 5,000 youth to take advantage of Spectrum’s drop-in centers, a safe space where they can get free meals, use a computer or phone, do laundry, get clothing, shower, take classes, and get help applying for jobs and finding a place to live. Spectrum’s services are critical to empowering up-and-coming generations to change their lives and help transform our communities.

For Mo, that included support for the dream he’s had since he was seven years old: to become a comedian.

“I’ve never seen anyone more supportive of my career than the people who work at Spectrum,” said Mo. He took classes at the Vermont Comedy Club and is now doing stand-up regularly while also working—thanks to support from Spectrum.

“In order to be successful, you need to be able to stand on your feet. And all of that is at Spectrum.”

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About VSECU

VSECU is a member-owned cooperative and not for profit credit union for everybody who lives or works in Vermont, offering a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member-owners. VSECU is committed to improving the lives of Vermonters by empowering possibilities for greater social, environmental, and financial prosperity.

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