The purpose of KEEP LLC is to provide direction, mentoring and inspirational speakers to addicts in recovery, people facing extreme life challenges and those who have had criminal justice involvement. Keep LLC will work in local communities to strengthen the capacity of public and private organizations by increasing knowledge about collaboration, addiction, homelessness and the obstacles people face when reentering society after overcoming these life altering experiences. The services of Keep LLC will be diverse yet tailored to each client in order to provide everyone - from those quite capable to those most challenged - the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Provide direction to support services tailored to the individuals needs. This includes educational pursuits governmental support, housing and food services, and rehabilitation services.
Collaborate with homeless shelters to organize and run events throughout the calendar year.
Conduct nationwide searches for individuals who have successfully emerged from extreme challenges to establish inspirational mentor and speaker networks.
Provide modest employment training to transition these individuals to the work environment and current technology, including interpersonal skills, interview practice, administrative skills, and some computer software training.
Develop a mentoring program pairing these individuals who have survived similar challenges with those who are facing challenges. This mentoring program will help to rebuild confidence, self-esteem, dignity and sense of community in those who have been marginalized by society. By providing a mentor who has survived what they are facing it will inspire them and they will know that changing one's life has been successfully done by others just like them, with the same background and challenges.
Develop a speaker program where individuals who have survived extreme challenges in their lives will share their life experiences, journey, and inspirational success stories not only with those who are facing challenges, but to help others see that this can happen to anyone and that people deserve to be given a second chance to change their lives when they work for it. By opening people up to the idea that felons or drug addicts can change their lives it makes the journey of these individuals less difficult; they will face less opposition to that change they are trying to make and will thereby more likely become productive members of society.
Julianna's unique story of addiction, homelessness, abuse, violence, and arrest followed by the numerous struggles to connect again with society inspired the concept KEEP. KEEP became the anchor to support the different areas of unmet needs in the Rochester community: KEEP Sober for rehab clinics, KEEP Nourished for food cupboards, KEEP Safe for battered women's shelters, and KEEP Warm for homeless shelters. With this wonderful concept supporting them, Julianna and Brandon spent weeks researching the Rochester community and familiarizing themselves with the numerous shelters, clinics, and food cupboards. They spent hours in between their college course work driving down underprivileged streets, meeting people on the streets, posting serving schedules with contact information. Through all of this personal interaction with the community in Rochester, Julianna and Brandon gained a unique, first-hand perspective of Rochester's various unmet needs.
At the end of the project, Julianna and Brandon compiled all of the information they had gathered, video footage of their interactions with people, photos of the campaign on streets in Rochester; and presented everything to their fellow classmates and professor. The response was absolutely phenomenal! Throughout the presentation and after, they received inquiries about what kinds of things these people needed, how they could help, where they could bring donations; they had become personal community ambassadors for the Rochester community.
After witnessing the overwhelming motivation to help from everyone they knew at RIT, and realizing that they had a wonderful platform to build on: their research, their personal interaction, and their networking, they then decided to take it one step further.
For the next three months, they used every resource they could connect with at RIT to bring awareness to what it was they were doing and set up a dozen donation drop off locations scattered throughout campus. In between their classes, they would visit the locations all over campus and empty them, carry everything to Brandon's car, and then store them in either his apartment or Julianna's before delivering everything to a selection of shelters in Rochester on Friday of ever week. During this time, Julianna and Brandon decided to focus on a specific group of shelters that they had networked with: a youth shelter, a battered women's shelter, two men's shelters, and a women's homeless shelter; three of these also supported their own food pantry and/or soup kitchen. They also frequently visited a group of homeless individuals to deliver items that were specific to their needs.
When the Spring came, Julianna and Brandon had such an overwhelming amount of support from students, faculty, and staff at RIT, that they decided to apply to become an RIT club called KEEP Rochester. They were interviewed and had to present their proposal in front of a board of a dozen members from the club organization for approval. At the end of the presentation, everyone was blown away and half wanted to join the club themselves. KEEP Rochester became a student club at RIT.
They began recruiting students for their club and over 40 students attended their first weekly meeting. This presented KEEP with a great amount of internal support to be able to grow and do new things. Julianna and Brandon built a very strong trust with one shelter in particular, the battered women's shelter they delivered to, and earned the privilege of coordinating and staffing events at the shelter. In the Spring, the club did a Spring Event, an Easter event, and a Mother's day event all of which were a huge success. They coordinated the event so that children activities were in one room, facilitated by members of KEEP, while other members set up and ran a BINGO game with all of the ladies of the shelter. Every BINGO game, winners would choose from a wide selection of brand new prizes that were generously donated to the club.
Julianna and Brandon, immensely pleased with all of their hard work and everything they had built, were concerned about how the club would live beyond their graduating and leaving RIT. At the end of the year they elected new Executive Members for the club at RIT.
Over the course of the summer they reconnected with the E Board for the club and the following year coordinated a Halloween and Christmas party, both of which were also a huge success.
At this point neither were active participants in the club because they were no longer students, and wanted KEEP to be able to do more. It was during this time that they decided to create KEEP as a real non-profit entity.
Given her past and her strong passion and desire to pay-it-forward in the community, Julianna is the wellspring that keeps everything going. All of Keep's tactics are inspired by her homeless and rehabilitation experiences.
Julianna's design background allowed her to create Keep's logo and identity, and her creative insight helps us to generate new ways of helping members in the community.
She is magnetic and inspire so many people to join in Keep's cause. Her main goals for Keep's future include the mentoring program pairing these individuals who have survived similar challenges with those who are facing challenges, and speaker program where individuals who have survived extreme challenges in their lives will share their life experiences, journey, and inspirational success stories not only with those who are facing challenges, but to help others see that this can happen to anyone and that people deserve to be given a second chance to change their lives when they work for it
Brandon is an intelligent creative, always looking for a fun, smarter, and more efficient way to communicate new ideas. Brandon became very good friends with Julianna before they even started Keep together and everything she has been through inspired and motivated him to give as much time, energy, and concept to Keep as she does.
With a marketing background in the higher education market, he brings a marketing flair to Keep's mission. Brandon is a classic educator, always needing to be on the edge of new learning while giving back to eager minds wanting to learn from him. His desire to always grow is continually applied to Keep to make sure that Keep is always educating too.
Lorrie, the wonderful professor at RIT whose Concept & Symbolism class allowed Julianna and Brandon the opportunity to birth an idea as strong as Keep.
After the course was completed, Julianna and Brandon continued to push for Keep to grow and change, all the while Lorrie acted as it's liaison to the RIT community she is so close to. To date, Lorrie has supported, embraced, and promoted Keep within the RIT community that helped shape it.
Bethany House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in Rochester, NY, was the first shelter we had networked with. We hold a special affinity for Bethany House because the beauty of Bethany is that it passes no judgment. Many shelters have affiliations with clinics to provide step-by-step rehabilitation into the community, which is wonderful, but for those who come right out of jail with no next step set up for them really have nowhere to go. Bethany House welcomes these people in no matter what their circumstances giving them a fighting chance to survive, meet people who are there to help them, and get their life back.
Bethany house provides emergency housing; assistance with food, formula, diapers, clothing, household items, and personal hygiene products. They have a drop in center where they hold weekly women's group meetings, prayer groups, and a daily lunch open to the community. They provide on-site referrals to requested agencies, assistance with accessing services through the Department of Social Services; housing and job searching to women and children.
Part of the Catholic Family Center network of shelters, the Women’s Place, provides shelter for single women and women with children specifically to the west side of the city.
After many donation visits to the shelter, Keep earned the trust of those who worked there. We coordinated beauty and spa days, bingo nights, craft nights for the kids, and Holiday specific parties which included Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Mother’s Day. The idea was that for one night in the middle of their struggles, these women could laugh and be excited about life. Many of these women had two or more kids with them as well, so separate craft activities were done with the kids to bring this joy to them as well. Specific donation drives were coordinated to collect new prizes for bingo night which included body lotions, purses, jackets, sweaters, shoes, spa shampoos and conditioners, and much more.
All in all, our series of events at the Women’s Place were a huge success and planning for the next years of events is underway.
In the beginning, Keep concentrated most of it’s efforts working with Women’s shelters in Rochester, but during our donations campaign at RIT, we received a lot of college student donations for teen youth, and didn’t have a shelter that was a part of our network that was focused on aiding youth 18-20. That’s when we added Genesis House to our regular network of shelters in Rochester, an amazing shelter that is really making an impact on the Rochester community, especially with the issues teens are now facing today.
Genesis House opened its doors in Rochester to homeless and runaway youth in 1981 and serves hundreds of teens ages 16-20 each year. At Genesis House, youth receive confidential care including: emergency food, clothing & shelter; medical and mental health services; hygiene supplies; counseling, case management, and life skills instruction; G.E.D. enrollment/on-site Rochester City School ; district tutoring through the Title 1 ESEA Neglected or Delinquent Program Funds; and After Care.
One thing Keep really loved about the Genesis House is that faculty from the public school staff the Genesis House year round. These troubled youth aren't just given a safe haven, they're guided by educators.
“Sojourner House is a house of miracles where lives are transformed. It is a sanctuary, where nurturing of the spirit begins, where the process of healing and loving of self takes place.”
Sojourner House provides shelter, structure, strength and inspiration to individuals and families in need, so they are prepared to lead responsible and meaningful lives. The strength of Sojourner House lies in recognizing and cultivating the strength within each person to overcome the barriers in their lives.
Sojourner house has networked with local clinics to provide bed-to-bed rehabilitation for women in the Rochester community.
The Dimitri House is a small Men’s Emergency Winter seven bed shelter providing all the comforts of home - comfy beds, clean bedding, showers, laundry facilities, a light meal in the evening and a hearty breakfast in the morning. It is also provides a drop-in program and an emergency food cupboard where people on the street, homeless or not, can gather, have a meal and address, with a counselor, any issues they may be experiencing.
We came across the dimitri house looking for a shelter that accepted laundry detergent. Many shelters have regulations for laundry soap, most allowing only a specific kind of detergent but Dimitri House was happy to accept it. After that, we continued bringing items there including all kinds of men’s outerwear and canned goods. Due to Dimitri House’s seasonal operations, we direct our men’s outwear specifically to Dimitri House.
Also part of the Catholic Family Center network of shelters, the Sanctuary House was opened as a response to the increasing demand for emergency shelter for women and children. This shelter was a wonderful addition to the emergency housing options in our community by being handicapped-accessible. The rooms are configured to provide several adjoining rooms as suites that allow large families to be accommodated together. A playroom is provided for the children, where 2 days a week an activity assistant provides arts and crafts and playtime for the children.
Unlike the Women’s Place, the Sanctuary House is situated in the north of downtown Rochester, servicing the needs of those who live north of the city.
Donations to the Catholic Family Center are dispersed amongst the three shelters that are in the CFC network.
The Francis Center was the first shelter opened by the Catholic Family Center. The CFC began the operation of Francis Center in 1991. Francis Center has fifty-three beds for emergency housing and 8 to 10 bedrooms for the transitional program. The emergency beds are primarily a dormitory arrangement with a few individual rooms to provide some flexibility in accommodations.
Transitional clients have their own rooms and a lounge area with all meal service provided in the multi-purpose room.
The Francis Center is situated in the northern part of the city, servicing a community area that requires quite a bit of need.
When Keep first started out, we tried to focus our efforts on those small, hidden shelters within our community that needed all the support they could get. Unlike all of the other shelters previously, the YWCA of Rochester is very large, aiding over 650 women and children each year.
The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County is a powerful resource in our community. It helps women and girls who are faced with personal crises including homelessness and teen pregnancy. It also works hard to dispel stereotypes and promote racial justice. Its goal is to empower women to regain control of their lives and to get on the path to a healthy, successful future.
Similar to the YWCA, the Salvation Army is a huge entity here in Rochester, but is doing a TON of good in it’s own right. Combined it operates four homeless shelters throughout the city providing almost 100 beds some of which are designated for veterans. These include Booth Haven which serves homeless men, Genesis House serving homeless youth, aged 16-20, Hope House, serving homeless women and their young children, and Safe Haven houses the chronically homeless. Dimitri House is also part of their network. Keep networks directly with these shelters.
Its continuing efforts help the homeless population return to a stable living environment; whether becoming employed and living on their own or returning to their families.
It also serves the community through its Emergency and Family Services Program in which it provides immediate emergency help such as food, clothing and prescription assistance to household in crisis. Counseling and case management services offer families holistic long-term support as well.
RIT Club Helps Those in Need - 11.04.2011, RIT News
RIT Announces Annual Public Service Award Winner Julianna Truesdale to be honored March 23 - 2.21.11, RIT University News
Julianna Truesdale - 12.9.2010, RIT Athenaeum
The homeless shelters maintain clothing closets so the residents may have a change of clothing if they arrive with nothing. They need gently used clothing for men, women, and children. Many of the shelters help their residents with the means to attend job interviews through transportation and dress clothing so all clothing both dress and casual is needed.
Coats and Jackets
Scarves and gloves
Pants and jeans
Belts and ties
When the homeless arrive to the shelters they usually arrive with nothing, including the very basic hygeine items. If you have any sample size or full size toiletries please contact us to arrange a donation pickup. These are consumable items that shelters use very quickly. Shelters are in constant need of these items. Shelters are also always in need of common household items.
Combs and brushes
Many battered women run from their abusers and arrive at the shelters with their babies and little else so baby items are another set of items that are constantly needed at these shelters. Below is a listing of some items that shelters are always in need of.
Health care items