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March 29, 2022

Celebrating Black History Month

FriendsPDX continues to bring back in-person events in a safe, intentional way. In February, we were thrilled to celebrate Black History Month (BHM) on a Saturday afternoon. We hosted basketball contests in our gym; welcomed four FriendsPDX-affiliated beauticians to style hair; sang, danced and karaoke-d; played in virtual reality with Worlds Beyond VR; and enjoyed catered food from Po’ Shines, Erica’s Soul Food, Donut Queen, and Nacheux, all locally Black-owned restaurants.

Events like these highlight the importance of community and sharing culture, in this case, Black culture, and are an opportunity for the youth we walk alongside to engage with their peers while doing so. One Friend shared how much this day meant to one of her youth who started off a bit hesitant in participating but blossomed with the energy, encouragement, and pure magic of the day:

It was such a gift to see my youth totally transform from shy and reserved to total celebrity status during the Black History Month celebration. When we arrived, she was visibly nervous and didn’t want to engage in activities, but with time and the attention from everyone in attendance, she was making friends with people left and right: the talented beautician who did her hair, the many people who stopped to appreciate the sign she created that read “Black people should be appreciated the way they want to be,” the older youth who responded to her compliment with “You’re beautiful too," and the mentor who generously offered a follow-up group outing to explore their shared spark of creative expression by making quilt squares for the community quilting project—which we totally took her up on a few days later. When asked what her favorite part of the event was during the car ride home, she enthusiastically said “EVERYTHING!” and then we turned up Beyonce’s version of the Black National Anthem which she loved.

Our Chief Program Officer, Rachel Pearl, shares that “the sense of community, connection, and pure joy radiating from each space in the building was beyond measure. There was so much thought, intention, inclusion, and creativity in the space and all in attendance are better for it. We will continue sharing, uplifting, and celebrating Black history all year long by creating more opportunities to honor all the amazing representation we have here at FriendsPDX.”