Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

SF youth group turns 50


Huckleberry Youth's Doug Styles
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A San Francisco-based nonprofit that assists homeless and runaway youth and offers HIV prevention education is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Huckleberry Youth, which started in 1967 as Huckleberry House, "was around before people walked on the moon and before 'Sesame Street' was created," Executive Director Doug Styles, 52, said. It's "pretty unique" for a nonprofit to have that kind of "staying power," he said, and "we're still going strong."

A kickoff party for staff, board members, and stakeholders was held Thursday, January 26. Upcoming events include a benefit concert May 20 and a 50th anniversary gala November 30.

Styles said the nonprofit, which serves an estimated 6,000 unique clients – many of whom are LGBTQ – is doing well financially. The agency's budget is about $5.8 million.

"The last few years have been very, very good for us," he said. "Our fundraising has increased year over year" and there are "more government contracts."

Additionally, he said, Huckleberry has "also been able to broaden our services and reach more youth."

Styles, a straight ally and San Francisco resident, credits the nonprofit's work to encourage education and prevent homelessness, among other efforts, in attracting donors.

Jackie Fagerlin, co-vice president of Huckleberry's board, said, "We're incredibly excited" about the anniversary. "We're looking forward to celebrating. It's a major accomplishment."

Fagerlin added, "There aren't a lot of nonprofits our size that have survived as long as Huckleberry has, and not just survived, but flourished and grown in the past 50 years, so it's a fantastic thing to celebrate."

One concern is the election of President Donald Trump in November. Since he took office in January, Trump has taken actions including ordering a wall to be built along the U.S. border with Mexico and banning immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the country. Media reports say he's also set to approve new anti-LGBT policy, although on Tuesday the White House issued a statement saying Trump would keep President Barack Obama's 2014 executive order that protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors.

"We're strong. We're going to be able to survive. We're just going to have to see how that plays out," Styles said of the new administration.

"Many of the youth and the families we work with have become very worried," he added.

In the past year, Huckleberry has expanded its work with youth who are exploited and trafficked and increased mental health and family counseling services.

"I love my work, and I love this organization," Styles said. "It's truly having an impact on youth and that just makes my heart feel bigger."

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