News Regarding the Future of GYA

Mission & Vision FeaturedThere are many things to be said about the past year and what it has meant to us, but for now, here is the basic news. GYA will cease programming on June 14, 2016.

The Refuge Youth Cafe will be taken over by TOFT (Time Out For Teens) and will become the TOFT Youth Cafe.

There are a few Little Free Libraries remaining and they can be requested from Friends of the Portsmouth Public Library.

Romance Academy in the UK has made the decision not to expand into the US at this time and therefore our license with them has ended.

One Sound will be continuing through the summer under Peyton Bailey and at this time will still be meeting at the cafe space on Tuesdays.

Thank you to everyone who has made the dream of GYA a reality, there are various reasons for this decision. GYA will continue to be an organization for the time being however we are not taking any donations or securing any further partnerships at this time.

Local And International Companies Provide Youth Cafe Storage

2016-01-14There are a lot of possible words to describe what has taken place over the last two weeks. The word I’m choosing to use is MIRACULOUS. Yes, it’s strong I know, but when I tell you the tale you too may agree with me.

Many will say it was just hard word, luck, coincidence or blessing. I believe it could have been all those things as well. But from where it started to where we ended up, it feels like nothing short of a miracle to me and the rest of the GYA leadership team.

If you’ve been watching our development over the last few months you’ve seen that we opened the Refuge Youth Cafe. We have a list of needs posted under the cafe page here on this website and right at the top was ‘storage.’ The space we’re using for free is an operating restaurant and church, so they don’t have any extra space to store items for youth programming. We’ve been fortunate to get the space for dry goods storage and a refrigerator for our needs.

But we’re more than just a cafe. We have sofas, quarter auction items, extra supplies needed for programming, Little Free Libraries and most importantly we have large Steel Drums that need storage for our new program in 2016, One Sound. With my shed, spare bedroom and home office filled to capacity, there was nowhere to put ten 50-gallon steel drums, much less move them to the cafe venue for programming. Storage was a great need. I know it’s not sexy, it doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy to give to ‘storage’ but it was necessary to work with youth.

I spent most of the holiday season watching Craigslist. Emailing those who had box trucks and enclosed trailers for sale. I’d email them daily, ‘if you don’t sell this would you consider donating it?’ And received no’s or no reply. Our deadline was looming, January 14th. Drums available for borrowing and moving on January 14th. Christmas came and went… January 14, 2016 was approaching fast.

Living in a port city, I’m surrounded by shipping containers, semi-trucks (lorries for our international readers) and all manner of companies that move freight all around the world. We have an international freight dock approximately 4 minutes drive from my house. While I was emailing each day I was also driving past the dock. Stephen and I would joke, “Just one of those!! They have so many stacked up!!” I’d dream “I don’t even need a big one, just a little sick one from the back of the herd – as long as it’s watertight!”

Then I decided…

You don’t ask, you don’t get.

If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

Carpe Diem!

And all those other cliches. It was time to email the Ports and see what – if anything – would come of it. Especially the week after Christmas.

I emailed the Port’s Community Engagement Manager on December 28th. She replied the same day! She was in the office! And she took my email seriously enough to reply. Her reply was supportive but disheartening. The Port doesn’t own the containers – shipping companies do. She provided me with the names and emails of six shipping companies.

I began to craft the emails, knowing it was three days before the end of the year. I sent those six emails out with very little hope of reply, especially not before the new year.

Noon the next day. Email reply from Zim. We may be able to help but I need to send this up the chain.

Later that same day. We may be able to help but I need to send this up the chain to the company’s head offices in ISRAEL.

Later THAT SAME DAY, December 30, 2015. We can help! But we can only sell it to you a discounted rate – we are not able to donate it. Also, you’ll need to find your own trucking company to move it.

My mind was whirring. A discounted rate? What would that be for a 20 foot shipping container? $1,000, $5,000, $10,000?! I had no idea. I waited. I thought. I debated. I decided on January 3, 2016 to find out what it would cost and then go from there.

The email came back on January 4, 2016. 10 Days before my deadline. Right at 4pm when the GYA board was meeting before I left the country for a week.


Wait. What?

One-hundred and fifty dollars.

1-5-0 dollars?

I told the board. We emailed back immediately – WE’LL TAKE IT! aaaannnnd figure out how to move the thing later…

While I was out of the country, the Personal Assistant of our corporate sponsor, Bunch Real Estate, started calling the trucking companies trying to find someone to move this container for us for free or a reasonable price.

She found one who would donate. But no winch on the other end. No good.

2016-01-14 (2)She found another, Dale Old Wrecker Service. Who could move it. For only $150.

This is now Wednesday, January 13, 2016. I reach back out to Zim. We have a truck. Can we move this tomorrow? We can try but it will be tight. Send the wire of $150 (I still can’t believe this!) At 4:54 I’m in the bank sending the wire. Wire Sent.

Thursday, January 14, 2016. Drum pick up set for 3pm.

9am. Wire not received.

10am. Wire not received.

11am. Wire received.

1pm. Truck has picked up container.


330pm. Drums stored.

So now we have storage. And drums. And all for $300.

See? Miraculous. IMG_20160119_140824[1] IMG_20160114_155752


Romance Academy US Completes First Pilot

IMG_20160103_195259The teens from Romance Academy US completed their course with a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant. They were presented with certificates of achievement and memory books which included photos of their time on Romance Academy.

The group formed in late October 2015. Three teens decided to embark on this new adventure, Romance Academy, a Healthy Relationships curriculum that GYA has brought it over from the UK. No other US teen has ever done a Romance Academy course – this was its first delivery in the US. While we had hoped for 10-12 young people to start the course, the pilot was small but perfectly formed. Despite a few similarities, the teens that participated were very different in their beliefs and values which is really what a good Romance Academy includes.

IMG_20160103_195529Romance Academy explores values and relationships. Values about why the participants think like they do – where those values can be strengthened and where they can be challenged with new ideas. It looks at all relationships, not just romantic ones, although those are the most fun ones to talk through! It explores families, friends and romantic relationships.

The first week dove right in to explore what sex is and what sex isn’t based on what young people think – they have to work together and think critically. It generated an hour of discussion just from that one activity!

IMG_20160103_195517After a couple of sessions it was time for the Romance Academy overnight experience. This included three sessions of the Academy including love languages and THE SEX BAG – a bag full of items that teens decide if they’re romantic, emotional, erotic or reproductive in nature. There are no wrong answers though, so to one teen an empty beer bottle was reproductive (you end up with a baby if you drink and then don’t use protection) while to another it was romantic (dinner dates). The participants also enjoyed team building at a local trampoline park and a video game session at the overnight location.

The participants also explored values around drinking and drugs, pregnancy and babies and ended up with an egg to care for for one week. They were given points for creative pictures doing ‘parental’ things with their eggs. One teen provided a cradle for his egg while another exposed his egg to his favorite TV programs. The young lady who participated had an egg fashion show, complete with hair style changes! This finished with parents coming and talking with the group about their experiences as a parent and how it changes your life.

The final weeks explored conflict resolution and violence in dating and families. It culminated in a presentation evening with a photo book of memories provided to each teen. Josh said ‘it’s like old school Facebook’ as they showed each other their books complete with printed pictures. Teens completed pre and post surveys to better grow the Romance Academy program.  







If you would like to know more about the Academy or if you are interested in hosting a Romance Academy please contact us!

Romance Academy is in need of funding for its next two sessions starting in February 2016. Please consider giving here.

Refuge Youth Cafe is Open for Business

Word Cloud This Place For CafeUpdate since posting:  We are currently open two days per week (Tuesdays/Saturdays) and the sexual health clinic is on hold until the Health Department has staff available for a different day of the week to hold the clinic.

We have had a lot going on since our last update and we are sorry it has taken over a month to get you an update!!

The Refuge Youth Cafe is now open! We opened on November 2nd and are continuing with ‘soft-openings’ until Christmas. In January, our official 3-month trial begins and we will be open THREE DAYS A WEEK! On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 215-515pm and Saturdays from 215-? (we will be determining our closing time when we find out what our attendance is like).

In addition, we are partnering with the Portsmouth Health Dept to offer a teen sexual health clinic on Thursday afternoons at the Cafe. Teens will be able to access nurses and other health educators to get information, condoms, other forms of contraception, pregnancy tests and STI tests.

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Finally, we will be offering programs after the cafe hours from 6-8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. More information about One Sound and Romance Academy will be coming in the new year.

The cafe menu is very basic right now although we will be offering fries in the new year which has been requested by teens already attending the Cafe.

We are excited about this partnership with Divine Dine N, the Health Department and the difference that having a space just for teens to be themselves will make in the City of Portsmouth where we are currently starting and trialing our programs.

First GYA Little Free Library Finds Its Home

IMG_20151027_162528The first of the GYA Little Free Libraries, built in partnership with Friends of the Portsmouth Library, has found its home.

It will be placed at the Portsmouth Community Colored Library Museum. Today we dropped it off at the Portsmouth Museum Foundation – it will be placed between Thanksgiving and the first of the year (2015/2016).

Keep checking back for more updates on this and other Little Free Libraries.