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Saving Underserved Youth: An interview with Utica Cason from SOAR Outreach

Helping underserved youth usually makes one think of after class teaching support group, or donating clothes. But there are some basic necessities we all use on a regular basis like hygiene products that many children do not have access to on a regular basis. Think about taking a shower without a soup for a week or more, just because your parents cannot afford to buy it. This is why SOAR Outreach exists. We set down with SOAR’s founder, Utica Cason, to learn more about this amazing organization.

-So tell us about yourself and why you created S.O.A.R Outreach?

Utica: I started SOAR Outreach in 2014. The mission work of SOAR Outreach is focused on assisting individuals, promoting learning and offering hope to under-served individuals in the community. Our first program was to help under-served men to become self-sufficient by providing job training, resume writing, interviewing skills, and professional and business casual clothing for job interviews.  This program required so many resources and time which I was not able to continue. I took off the year 2017 and decided to revamp our programs and services but still be able to assist individuals in the community. In January 2018, I decided to add a new program that focuses on Wake County Youth.

-What does the name mean? And what do your organizations do? 

Utica: SOAR stands for Stay Out and Renewed.  Stay out of the different social economic issues, such as homeless, low income, criminal justice, mental health, and etc. The mission work of SOAR Outreach is focused on assisting individuals,  promoting learning and offering hope to under-served individuals in the community. 

Providing Hygene to does cannot afford them

-Why did choose hygiene kits is one of your main actions to support the community?

Utica: There can be numerous contributors to poor personal hygiene habits. Anything from lack of in-home education, cultural influences, or low-income households with limited financial resources can attribute it. Those children from low-income households may not have access to personal hygiene products readily desired. An overlooked population who may not have access are homeless students.  

The Healthy Hygiene Program provides donated hygiene kits to Wake Youth ages 5-18 years old that attends a Title 1 school, homeless or transitional, or resides in a low-income household. Children with poor personal hygiene habits can affect their self-confidence, mental and emotional health, ability to maintain friendships and their desire to attend school. 

We are equipping students to give them a vision and hope for the future. Our goal is to further close the gap between opportunity and achievement for our students by providing basic hygiene products (Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, soap, deodorant, body wash, dental floss, mouthwash, lotion, and feminine hygiene).

How Can You Get Involved?

-Do you also operate outside of schools?

Utica: Our Healthy Hygiene program we only partnered with school social workers and administrative staff and other community organizations.

-How many families have you served up until now?

Utica: We have served over 500 youth in Wake County and we barely scratched the surface. There is a huge demand for the hygiene packages and we keep getting phone calls asking about our programs on a daily basis.

-What kind of events do you do?

Utica: We participant in community events at this time we have an attentive event scheduled in September. You can find more information about it on our website

-What was your most proud moment since you founded the organization?

 

Utica: The most proudest moment is becoming a Community Partner with Wake County Public School System

 

-What can the community do to support underserved youth and spreading the word about SOAR Outreach?

 

Utica: The community can help spread the word with others about your program with family, friends, community leaders, and employers.

 

-If someone wants to be involved with soar outreach, how can they contact you?

 

Utica: If can email us at ucason@soaroutreach.com or give us a call at 919-651-4397.