With YARN and T-shirts comes the fabric of kids’ lives

The Home for Little Wanderers finds right fit for fund-raiser at One Off Apparel store on Newbury Street


Raider Times photo / Kayla Furbish

One Off Apparel on Newbury Street, which hosted the Home for the Little Wanderers fund-raiser on Feb. 7, 2014.

Fried chicken and cornbread are on plates scattered around the room in the hands of strangers. The TV is flashing pictures of paintings and artwork made by youth. Rap and hip-hop music are just quiet enough to be heard over.

While many of the youth aren’t all that interested in talking to people they don’t know, they are having fun among themselves. They are dancing, eating, and taking pictures together and a lot of them are dressed up for the occasion.

This lively spirit in youth is what encourages people to help them out and donate to the cause.

This is all part of a fund-raiser on Newbury Street for The Home for Little Wanderers’ YARN program. The Definition of Nyce, a self-described “community oriented clothing brand,” and One Off Apparel, a clothing printing company, came together to host the fund-raiser in One Off’s store on Newbury Street in Boston on Feb. 7, 2014.

The Home for Little Wanderers — better known as The Home — is a child services agency that serves people from birth to age 22 and works with families. This specific fund-raiser supported The Home’s work with youth aging out of the Department of Children & Families’ care between the of ages 17 and 22.

One of the kid-designed T-shirts sold at One Off Apparel on Newbury Street as part of the Home for the Little Wanderers fund-raiser on Feb. 7, 2014.
One of the kid-designed T-shirts sold at One Off Apparel on Newbury Street as part of the Home for the Little Wanderers fund-raiser on Feb. 7, 2014.

At a certain point in a DCF-dependent person’s life — for example, if the person hasn’t been able to keep a job — DCF will close their case and stop helping them.

This is when YARN steps in.

YARN stands for Young Adult Resource Network, which helps young adults find employment, education, and housing, and improve their quality of life.

The Home relies on the support of generous donors at fund-raisers such as this one at One Off Apparel to raise money. For more than 200 years, The Home has been doing innovative work to help prepare youth for successful futures.

The Home for Little Wanderers impacts more than 7,000 lives every year across Eastern Massachusetts through its many programs. In addition to YARN, The Home’s Academic Support for College and Life and Roxbury Village programs also focus on youth aging out of state systems of care. Each program does have its own area of expertise, but they all share a common goal to better the lives of the people and the community.

Erica Nazzaro, YARN’s program director, talked about all of the activities that YARN does with the youth in their programs. These activities are a mix of things that simply get kids off the streets, such as, “theatre, music, writing, and artwork… They did set design for Company One [a Boston area theatre company]. We have people come to do cooking classes with them,” and spaces for them to meet more emotional needs, “… we have times for them to talk about what’s going on in their lives and how they’re feeling.”

Prior to the event, youth in the YARN program had designed images to go on T-shirts, which Nick and Jeff (One Off’s owner) printed right there during the fund-raiser for people to buy. Nick and Jeff were busy printing throughout the night.

Daniel Rechel from The Definition of Nyce, said the goal of the fund-raiser was “to give the kids a stage to showcase their talent and worth and for people from all different demographics to see,” as well as, of course, to raising money. He also said that one of the main goals was to get the kids engaged in the community.

Almost everyone who walked in the door lined up to order a T-shirt at one point during the night. Of course, this helps with the financial needs of the organization, but it does more than that. The positivity shows the youth who attended the fund-raiser that what they’re doing to change their lives is paying off.

Anyone could start an organization that helps young adults find their way in the world, but it wouldn’t really take off without the young adults themselves being engaged. The fact that these youth created artwork and then attended the event showed that they want what’s being provided by The Home.

That being said, The Home can’t do everything they want to do without support from the Boston community, which is where fund-raisers like this one come into play.

–March 23, 2014—-