My name is James Beck. I'm the development director of Sasha Bruce Youth Work. It is our mission is to improve the lives of the runaway homeless, abused and neglected youth in the DC area, and their families. We're probably best known for our emergency shelter which is actually the only emergency shelter for unaccompanied youth in the district, which is an incredible thing to think about, given that 4000 young people identify as homeless in the DC Metro area.
For this specific crowd, I actually don't feel the need to explain how independent documentary films on Public TV give a voice to underserved communities or how it effectively raises awareness in this country about the needs of underrepresented people. But, what I will say is, as a development director – I spend most of my time trying to get buzz through social media trying to raise funds and trying to deliver services. We frankly, don't have any money to do the kind of awareness building these independent documentary provide. Films like Homestretch on public television in primetime are reaching the audiences that they do in a non-commercial way and so it's crucial to our mission. It's crucial to raising awareness, but also it's really crucial for the young people themselves. The young people that we're organizing come to the screenings and watch film like Homestretch on POV and ITVS, to see their peers. They're getting a voice and this is exactly what they don't have currently. So, by promoting independent films, it is actually allowing our young people to have a voice. And so its impact is immeasurable. So I would encourage everyone to really consider not only the benefit to this country as a whole, but to the people themselves that are featured and able to organize themselves and feel proud about what they're able to do.