Goodbye, Twenty-Seventeen

Can you believe we’re closing another year?  It seems to me as if it were only yesterday that I no longer could drywall the bathroom in Slidell we were working on and instead squeezed into the bathtub with Hannah and Katie, trying to make sense of everything we’d seen in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.  Yet here we are, more than ten years later, and time still marches on.

As we look to the future and what it holds for YOAM, I want to take you back to that bathtub.  You need to understand YOAM’s history before you can truly understand where it is going.  YOAM was the brainchild of teenagers that had been exposed to the wanton destruction of Mother Nature for the first time in their lives.  I have three pictures left from that trip (sadly, my camera was left behind on a plane), but I think they can accurately show you why this trip still haunts my nightmares.

So there we sat, stacked, power tools and all, in a bathtub – unable to work, unable to see the difference it would make in the grand scheme of New Orleans.  Until I spoke five words that changed everything:

“We have to come back.”

Within minutes, on a piece of scrap sheet rock that is still somewhere in Mark’s home, YOAM was born, in full detail, to an extent we still have yet to achieve.  Within hours, we’d completed the team that came to be the driving force of YOAM known as the “Original Six”: Hannah, Katie, Jessica, Caroline, Brittany, and myself.  We dreamt in vivid color the opportunity for young people to shape their world into the reality they wanted it to be, rather than what they were told the limits were, and we still strive to make that happen.

Now, as we approach 2018, we are grasping the bull fully by the horns and place a challenge in front of you:

Will you dare to dream with us?  Will you dare to come back?

What makes you passionate?

What breaks your heart?

What can you no longer keep from saying?

What in this world must change?

What were you made to do?

We are here.  We are listening.  We are ready to help you take it on.  Stay tuned, because the most exciting chapter of YOAM is yet to come.


YOAM 2006

Love and Peace,


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