ode boutique

September 2012 Philanthropy

Horizons for Homeless Children

For the month of September, Ode will be donating 5% of profits to Horizons for Homeless Children. Meeting the people in the area who are improving the lives of children and creating safe places for them to grow is such an inspiration to us. Joanna Carrington from Horizons for Homeless Children shares with us what drives her and how you can become involved.

Can you tell us about Horizons for Homeless Children and the kind of support the organization offers?
We help children learn how to play, to share, to read, and to enjoy exploring their worlds. We help parents learn how to be nurturing and involved in the growth and development of their children, and help them learn and grow through job training, GED and college courses. We help to stabilize families so that they can weather any crisis, and thus help to break the cycle of homelessness that too often occurs

Horizons for Homeless Children founded the Playspace Programs in 1990. To make healthy play possible for children living in shelters, we collaborate with shelter residents and staff to design and build age-appropriate, "kid-friendly" spaces that come equipped with libraries, building blocks, art supplies and more - the all-important tools to challenge children physically and creatively and allow them to have a place to play, use their imaginations and be just who they are…kids. The program recruits, trains, and places volunteers in the shelter Playspaces to supervise and engage the children in fun, educational play so that they can grow and develop, as all children should.

Playspace Programs West Region Director, Joanna Carrington

What is your role at Horizons for Homeless Children?
I am the Playspace Programs West Region Director

What are some ways for people to get involved or make contributions?
The greatest need of the Playspace Programs is Playspace Activity Leaders (PAL) Volunteers to play with the children living in shelters for 2 hours each week. To learn more about becoming a PAL, visit our website:

There are many ways to support Horizons for Homeless Children, including:

​What are some of the organizations you’ve worked with in the past?
Horizons for Homeless Children West Region Playspace offices partners with almost all of the family homeless shelters in Western MA including parent agencies; The Center for Human Development, HAP Housing, New England Farmworkers Council, Service Net, Berkshire Community Action Council, Berkshire Children and Families, YWCA, Family Life Support Center, Springfield Housing Authority, Womanshelter Companeras, and Open Pantry Community Services.

What are some events you’ve helped organize?
Horizons for Homeless Children holds several fundraising, educational, and awareness-building events throughout the year, including The Woman’s Breakfast, the Young Children without Homes National Conference, the Route for Kids 5K Run/Walk, the annual Recognition and Awards Dinner and the Spring Gala to name a few.

What is one of your favorite stories about your work?
There are so many reasons why Horizons for Homeless Children is an amazing agency to be a part of. The staff is inspiring, dedicated and so hard working. The PALs are devoted, kind, and so loving. The children are AMAZING.

Just last week while attending my weekly shift at the Quality Inn, a child who usually does not say a word to anyone (kids or adults) led a game of Simon Says for her peers. We quickly went to get her mom so that she could see. The tears of joy the mom had for her child’s growth during this particularly trying time in their lives.

What are some of your goals for the future?
The Playspace Programs would like to be able to expand the number of PALs across the region to ensure that all Playspaces have a variety of shifts available with adequate coverage to ensure that the children have ample adult:child ratios.

Are there any upcoming events or programs you would like to mention?
The Playspace Programs West Region Office will be holding Volunteer trainings on the following dates:

  • September 18 & 19 6pm- 8:30pm in Holyoke
  • September 29 9:00 am– 3:00 pm in Worcester
  • October 13 9:00 am- 3:00 pm in Williamstown
  • November 27 & 29 6:00pm- 8:30pm in Springfield

We’d love to see you at one of our upcoming trainings! Visit our website to sign up to become a PAL:

More Information