Sue Barry Benefits by Making a Difference
Sue Barry paused in the middle of her story as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Barry told of a high school senior who was kicked out of her home and sought comfort at her boyfriend’s house. His parents turned her away and he left his shelter for the streets. They stayed at a weekly motel when they could afford it, but lived in their car when money was tight. He worked as much as possible, and despite limited means, she went to school everyday.
A story like this is common in Barry’s line of work. Barry is the Reno Director of Project 150, a charity that helps homeless, displaced, and disadvantaged high school students stay in school by providing them with basic necessities.
“That’s our whole goal. This is for kids that want to stay in school, and we’re there to help,” Barry said.
The holiday season is the toughest time for Project 150 to help students. Counselors can’t reach students because school is out and there’s no telling who will come back after the break.
Project 150 holds volunteer events that assemble meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They hope the families can make the meal last for two or three days.
“These kids, they don’t want X-boxes and cellphones. They want the simple things in life. They want a pillow. They want sheets. They want school supplies. They’re not asking for much,” said Barry.
Barry always imagined working with a non-profit. The opportunity arose when her friend’s husband, Don Purdue, founded Project 150 in Las Vegas. She saw the impact it had on the community and brought it home to Reno, Nev.
“I’m passionate about helping others,” said Barry. “I love it. It’s very rewarding, and selfishly, I get a lot out of it.”
Barry is in charge of informing the community of Project 150’s existence. She oversees the distribution of donated clothes, food, and other goods they provide to students. She also coordinates special events held by the charity.
Teen Shopping Days are held multiple times during the school year. They use vacant rooms in buildings, such as churches, and fill the room with racks of clothes, shoes, and accessories. All students have to do is show a school ID to prove they attend a local high school. Clothes, hygiene products and school supplies are provided at any quantity needed.
Barry said after leaving one of these events, one student with a few full bags told her, “This is four times more than I have at home right now.”
Project 150 provides food to students during the week days and counselors at the schools distribute food to hungry students. These pantries are stocked regularly and students are able to take as much as they need.
Working with a charity that supports education is fitting for Barry. Her father was an educator and heavily emphasized its importance in her household growing up.
“He always said, ‘Give the kids the opportunity and they can.’” said Barry.
Barry’s goals for Project 150 go beyond Reno, Nev. She hopes one day the charity has enough money to start giving out an annual scholarship. She also wants to see it expand throughout northern Nevada.
The high school senior whose story impacted Barry will be the first in her family to graduate.
“I don’t care why that kid is homeless,” said Barry. “We need to get the graduation rate up and get these kids through high school.”
To donate to Project 150, go to project150reno.org, where financial donations can be made through PayPal. There are drop off locations for clothes and hygiene products at Alpine Mortgage at 6900 South McCarran Blvd, Suite 2020 Reno, NV 89509 or The Bridge Church at Bridge Church, 1330 Foster Drive, Reno NV 89509.
NOTE: The father of the author of this article is the founder of Project 150.