By Kathy Chouteau
The Oshiana Unique Thompkins Foundation (O.U.T Foundation), an organization founded to honor the charitable legacy of a 19-year-old North Richmond woman lost to gun violence in 2019, celebrated the Grand Opening of its Reach O.U.T Mode Center last Saturday.
The newly opened Reach O.U.T Mode Center (ROM Center)—which bears the initials of its inspiration, Oshiana Unique Thompkins, and is located at 435 Valley View Rd. in El Sobrante—is a youth center serving those ages 12 to 21 that offers a safe space to enjoy various resources and activities, from homework help, to free clothing, to a Creation Room, to a Recreation Area and much more.
Sparkle Davis, Thompkins’ mother and CEO/founder of the foundation, said the Grand Opening was a “big success,” with more than 100 community members in attendance. The celebratory event included numerous activities for youth, including as jumpers, mechanical bull rides and an extreme gaming truck, she said.
A full-service lunch and take-home dinners were also available, as were a Kona ice truck and sweet-treat stations ideal for Easter weekend. “The younger youth were provided with take home goodies bags and Easter baskets,” added Davis.
Some special visitors were on hand for the occasion too. Richmond Fire Department Stations 63 & 64 “came to support the foundation and brought their fire engine to show the youth,” said Davis, who added that the younger set “were extremely excited to see real life fire fighters” and “asked about what it’s like to be a fire fighter and how to become [one] when they grow up.”
The Donor Network was also on hand to not only treat youth attendees to backpacks and T-shirts, but also to share “the moving story of donor recipient, Damita Barbee, [who] had a double lung transplant a few years ago which saved her life and now…volunteers her time telling her story encouraging people to become organ donors,” said Davis. Several event attendees signed up on the spot to be organ donors following Barbee’s story, she said.
The Grand Opening also included a number of community outreach tables; in addition to the Donor Network, the Triangle District and the El Sobrante Green Team came out. Davis said the Sobrante Triangle District and the El Sobrante Green Team partnered “to share the importance of [the] El Sobrante water conservation program and the community efforts to promote Earth Day and the community creek clean up.”
On the heels of the Grand Opening excitement, Davis said that the foundation’s first order of business is to secure enough donations to fund two passenger vehicles to help transport youth to-and-from the center. Support the effort here.
Prior to her death to gun violence at an Orinda house party on Halloween 2019, Thompkins had a history of performing community service work for the Senior Citizen Neighborhood House in North Richmond, the Green Team Agriculture Garden Program and as a youth leader at Shields Reid Park. She was also an organ donor, per her mother. It is in the spirit of Thompkins’ charitable legacy that her mother started the foundation and ROM Center in her honor.
“I will never get over losing my only child, but this foundation has given me hope and a reason to carry on. I am ready to dedicate my life to serving our community and helping our youth thrive,” said Davis.
The OUT Foundation states its mission as working to “enhance and save the lives of at-risk youth and underprivileged families by providing necessary resources and hosting community outreach events.”
To learn more about the foundation and its ROM Center for youth, click here.