Most of us are lucky enough to have never worried about having a safe place to live. Most of us have never, and will never, run away from home. Most of us were never, or will never be, a teenager living on the streets.
But next week, those of us who have never lived in that situation have a chance to help those who do – and get some pretty sweet swag in exchange.
The 8th annual Rock the House Auction to benefit Compass House, a Western New York youth shelter, will take place from May 9-16. The auction is run by Absolute Goo, a fan site for one of Buffalo’s most famous exports, the Goo Goo Dolls.
“Compass House is a fantastic group of people that give so much of themselves to help runaway and homeless kids, and we’re proud to be able to help join with them in this effort,” the site’s webmaster, who prefers to only be known as AG.
In the aftermath of 9/11, “we wanted to do something collectively, to express our gratefulness for what we have been given,” AG said. Given the Goo Goo Dolls ties to the city, a Buffalo-based charity was the perfect fit. AG had heard good things about Compass House’s work, “so they seemed like a natural choice.”
The Goo Goo Dolls have thrown their support behind the auction, too. Along with donating everything from tour memorabilia to personal phone calls, their endorsement has given “national exposure to a local issue,” said Candice Fletcher, Compass House Development Director.
“It’s like one of those amazing, anonymous benefactor things that falls into your lap,” Fletcher said.
As Buffalo’s only shelter and service provider for both male and female runaway and at-risk youth, and one of the oldest shelters in the United States, Compass House operates both an emergency shelter on Linwood Avenue and a resource center on Main Street. The shelter is always open and always staffed, providing immediate access to both a place to stay and counseling services, while the resource center houses the counseling program, independent living program, Street Outreach Program, and Safe Place.
Compass House maintains agreements with over 50 community agencies to help the youth they serve, and volunteers assist a small paid staff at both the shelter and resource center. In 2009, 348 youths were provided with 2,074 days of shelter, food and care at the emergency shelter, and a total of 611 calls were made to the shelter’s help line, according to the Compass House website. The resource center helped 223 youths with case management.
Compass House receives funding from a multitude of sources – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Erie County Department of Young Services, Episcopal Community Services, state legislation, donations and grants – but much of the money comes with restrictions and requirements.
“The auction gives us an incoming stream of unrestricted funds,” said Fletcher. “It’s a luxury to be able to have this additional pot.”
And since Compass House’s funding was cut by $120,000 this year, the money is especially needed.
Last year’s auction drew over four million hits, with bidders from nine countries, according to Absolute Goo. Over $50,000 has been raised to date, every last penny of which goes straight to Compass House.
Items for this year’s auction come from not only the Goo Goo Dolls themselves, but bands like Cheap Trick and the Rolling Stones, VH1, Grateful Graffiti, Epiphone Guitars, and a multitude of other donors.
“It’s this beautiful symmetry because music generally speaks to a young population,” Fletcher said.