Portland, Ore. Sept. 4, 2014 – Project Lemonade, a non-profit in Portland, is set to host its first fundraising luncheon Friday, Sept. 19 at 12 p.m. at the Multnomah Athletic Club. The luncheon is Project Lemonade’s largest annual fundraising effort with a goal to raise $70,000. Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of the New York Times best seller “The Language of Flowers,” will speak.
Project Lemonade, a non-profit 501(c)(3) was founded three years ago by Rhonda Meadows, a former foster parent to a young boy named Alan who came to her with a single paper sack containing all of his clothing, much of which was old and ill fitting. To meet the needs of youth like Alan, Project Lemonade operates a back-to-school shopping event during the month of August where foster youth can come and shop for free for new and nearly new shoes, coats, denim, shirts, socks and underwear, backpacks and accessories, so they can start school with greater self-esteem and confidence, just like their peers.
Due to unfortunate budget cuts, the Department of Human Services (DHS) no longer has clothing to provide for foster children, meaning they are left to rely on what little they currently carry from home to home. Project Lemonade will provide clothes to children at no cost, empowering foster children to start their first day of school with confidence.
Project Lemonade is an all-volunteer organization and relies entirely on community support to accomplish its mission. Over the past three years, Project Lemonade has served more than 5,000 foster youth.
“We are grateful to the many apparel and shoe companies in Portland who have stood with us for the past three years by providing thousands of dollars of new and nearly new merchandise to these deserving kids,” states Kirsten Brady, Board President.
All funds raised at the luncheon will be used to further Project Lemonade’s 2015 event.
About Project Lemonade
Project Lemonade provides foster youth in the Portland metro area with a back-to-school shopping experience and offers support to inspire self-esteem and promote success. Each August youth ages 5-20 shop for free back to school clothes in a pop-up shop, which has been generously donated the past two years by community property owners. Project Lemonade is a Portland, Oregon non-profit 501(c)(3) run entirely by volunteers and relies on financial contributions, grants, in-kind donations and volunteer efforts by both individuals and companies. Its board of directors provides oversight to the organization and its nearly 300 volunteers. Project Lemonade’s long-term goal is to secure a year-round facility to meet the ongoing needs of youth. Since 2012, Project Lemonade has served over 3,000 foster youth from Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and counties in outlying areas. More information is available at www.projectlemonadepdx.org.
If you had a chance to pick up the August 2014 issue of Woman’s Day Magazine you would have seen a two page story on how founder Rhonda Meadows was inspired to start Project Lemonade. The article features the story of Alan, a young boy who Rhonda fostered back in 1996. “When I picked up Alan he had nothing more than a paper sack with all of his belongings,” she stated. “Foster youth need the same things all kids need as they are growing including shoes and jeans that fit, a new coat each year and socks and underwear.”
The story prompted calls from individuals in 15 states to find out how they can start a similar organization in their community.
12,113 children spent at least one day in foster care. Of those children 6,035 were served by DHS, meaning they spent more than a single day in foster care. In 2013 the average length of stay for a child in foster care was 18 months.
PROJECT LEMONADE HELPS
PORTLAND’S FOSTER COMMUNITY
There are an estimated 13,000 foster children in Oregon. Thirteen thousand children in the Beaver State being raised by new families. Thirteen thousand children starting anew in their lives, getting second, third, fourth chances at being part of a happy family.
And one quintet of University of Oregon alumnae determined to give them all a practical—yet fashionable—self-esteem boost.
Two years ago, Rhonda Meadows ’81, Janet Smith Cathcart ’82, Austin Blythe ’11, Cynthia Fraser ’80, and Cheryl McElroy ’86 founded Project Lemonade, a 501 (c)(3) organization with one simple mission: to host an annual back-to-school event for Oregon’s foster children to provide them with clothing, shoes, and accessories.