AUBURN — In 2012, when Harvard University sophomore Sam Greenberg began pondering the idea of creating a shelter for homeless youths in Boston, he realized there were two things he had to do.
He had to speak with others dedicated to helping young people in crisis. And he had to speak to those young people directly, to better determine their needs.
Greenberg, now 25, managed both tasks in part by visiting New Beginnings in Lewiston, which has been serving runaways and homeless teens since 1980.
“We learned a lot at New Beginnings,” Greenberg said at the group’s annual dinner Wednesday. “We came back to Greater Boston with a fire under us.”
Greenberg went on to co-found the Y2Y Harvard Square shelter — the first student-led shelter for homeless young adults in the United States.
The shelter, which opened in 2015, has been such a success that Greenberg and his co-founder, Sarah Rosenkrantz, were recently named to Forbes’ 2017 “30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs” list, the Boston Globe’s Bostonians of the Year 2015 and featured in various publications.
At the Wednesday night dinner, Greenberg described how the honesty of the kids he met at New Beginnings helped him narrow his goals for the new shelter in Boston.
“The lessons we learned at New Beginnings,” he said, “really stuck with us.”
Also at Wednesday’s dinner at Martindale Country Club, Robin Robbins was named the recipient of this year’s New Beginnings Service Award.
“Many people in Lewiston-Auburn know Robin as a tireless volunteer with the chamber,” according to the New Beginnings annual dinner program, “but may not know that she has also volunteered with New Beginnings for more than twenty years as a former New Beginnings’ board president, a board member, board adviser, and a member of our building campaign committee.
“In addition to her dedication to New Beginnings, Robin is a lifelong resident of Lewiston and Auburn and has spent innumerable volunteer hours making greater L-A a better place for ALL who live, work, and play here,” according to the program. “Robin has made a difference for so many people through all of her volunteer endeavors — she is too humble to admit it, but she is a true community leader.”