Over one weekend, April 4-6, more than 200 people gathered at homes around the city to share meals, to laugh, to talk and to learn how to help create futures for homeless youth.

The well-received Building Futures Weekend sent Urban Peak Executive Director Shawna Kemppainen on a tour of the area, from meal to meal, accompanied by young people from the program who told their stories in the casual settings.

Hosts Chris Garvin and Jerry Albrent cleverly turned their event into a Trader Joe's sampling party and served up the results of their shopping spree at the long-anticipated Denver store. They raised $1,800 in one afternoon.

Kemppainen told the couple's guests about the Urban Peak programs and the process of standing beside the young people as they learn to make their own decisions, finding their own way. Harley (those in the programs use first names) described how simple arguments with his father escalated into such major problems that he was forced to leave. He since has started learning life skills, has his own apartment and the day after the party had a job interview.

Other hosts and hostesses for the weekend of meals and camaraderie included Jo French, Pat and Kristina Rigdon, Pam and Wayne Bland, Crystal Dojcak, Deb Yagmin, Robert Cadogan, Amber Cote and Abby Laine Sienkiewicz , Marilyn and George Rigdon and Geraldine Gerdes.

Linda Navarro, linda.navarro@gazette.com