Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alot of Help From Our Friends

People ask me all the time how we do the work we do. Well, actually, we do it with a lot of help from our friends. Through our many collaborations, Promise House provides over $1,000,000 worth of in-kind services to our teens and families every year! If we had to pay for these services, we'd be in big trouble, and our expenses would almost double.

So, what are these services? Well, when you think of everything it takes to raise a child, that is what we provide. Here are just a few:
  • Medical Services through the Parkland HOMES Van and Parkland Hospital Services
  • Dental services through the First Presbyterian Stewpot's dental program and Parkland's Dental Van
  • Food through the North Texas Food Bank
  • Child care slots through the Vogel Alcove
  • STD education through Planned Parenthood
  • Hygiene supplies from individual and corporate contributors
  • Shoes through the Wilkinson Center's annual shoe drive via Pay Less Shoes
  • Two on-site DISD classrooms with certified DISD teachers
  • Baby supplies from Captain Hope's Kids
  • Baby showers from various churches

On top of those listed above, Promise House is connected to ALL metroplex colleges and universities. Via our training institute, graduate and post-graduate level psychology, social work, marriage and family, and counseling interns receive free clinical supervision in return for providing counseling to ALL our teens and family members. Talk about win-win!

And, we continue to develop new collaborations. This summer, we will be working with the University of Dallas on a 7-week math/science/astronomy camp, with the last week being a trip to Western States University in Colorado to view the stars through a HUGE telescope--all paid for through a grant written and submitted by the university. How cool is that??

In addition, we are hoping that Junior Players will be awarded a grant they submitted that will provide on-site theatre and drama training for our teens. AND, we recently began discussions with Junior Achievement to take part in their Finance Park financial literacy program this coming year. Finally, we will be working with Dallas Metrocare to provide psychiatric services to our teens this coming year.

These collaborations are so exciting and SO beneficial to our teens. And instead of a little help from our friends, Promise House is incredibly fortunate to be getting ALOT of help from our friends.

Thank you. The part you play in healing our kids is immeasurable.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Day!

Dallas is blanketed in snow. Really a beautiful sight. A snow like this brings out the kid in us. My assistant just got back from running errands and told me she never saw so many different kinds of snowmen--she even saw a square one! If I had the right parka on, I'd go make snow angels--my favorite thing to do as a kid.

Snow this heavy quiets things. It hushes footsteps, makes you want to whisper. The world seems brighter, even with gray skies. Because it is such a rarity here, everyone's talking about it, watching it, wondering how long it will last. I'm sure if it did this all winter, I'd be sick to death of it, but today it is beautiful, almost heavenly.

When I let my dogs out this morning, they were like, "Huh? What? What is this?". Millie, the prissy one, tiptoed through it to do her business. Tucker, the hulk, went barreling all over the yard, jumping up and down, having a great time. Neither one could find a familiar scent--the snow covered everything!

The mermaid in my fountain looked like the Snow Queen, my Japanese Maple was gorgeous, with each limb lined with powder, and my crepe myrtles looked like a row of huge snow bouquets. Even the garbage cans looked better with their coats of snow!

In a few days the beauty will turn to ugly slush. But for today, Dallas is dressed in her finest white coat of the season! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rise Up!!

So, it's February, the ground hog saw his shadow, and spring seems very far away. I'm sure it seems especially far away to those teens who are sleeping outside, trying to keep warm. We continue to bring in three or four teens a NIGHT directly from the streets. With the help of our fabulous Street Outreach, Shelter, and Transitional Living teams, they have all been taken care of....so far. If going home was an option, they went home, some with the help of Greyhound's "Home Free" program (free bus ticket for runaways to go home), others were moved into our transitional living program, some were helped to find a job and apartment, and a couple are in our shelter. But we are out of room, and yet, they keep coming. So, they sleep on pull-out couches or cots in our living room.

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY, UNTIL THESE KIDS ARE TAKEN CARE OF, WE WILL NEVER END HOMELESSNESS??? We have 30, count them, 30 girls on our waiting list for an apartment. What do they do while they wait? Double up, sofa surf, stay with someone they shouldn't be staying with, roam the streets.

These are GOOD kids. One young woman in our transitional living program is on track to be VALEDICTORIAN of her high school. And she has done this while dealing with a totally unacceptable living situation. Just think what she could do with support???

Now I know why I haven't posted much in a month. I just didn't want to get angry all over again. Where is the justice for these teens? Where is the help? The Family Youth Services Bureau is the only federal agency that provides funds for transitional living programs for teens; BUT they only fund about 90 a year NATIONALLY. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will not accept any new projects unless they are permanent supportive housing for "chronically" homeless. Well, guess what? These teens haven't been on the street long enough to be chronic---but they WILL be, I promise you, unless they get help.

I'm also tired of being nice about this. Why don't we WAKE UP and see what is around us?? Those of us in this field have been saying for YEARS that the population of teens aging out of foster care is going to cause a second homelessness crisis. Statistic? Forty-two (42%) percent will be homeless at least once within two (2) years.

One glimmer of hope, the Department of Family and Protective Services is developing programs for teens to stay in care up to age 21; or to come back into care if they have aged out and haven't done well. But there is soooo much more that needs to be done,

So, if any of you out there are looking for a cause, are looking to change a life, want to witness miracles; or if you have alot of money just sitting around, and you're wondering what to do with it??? HERE IS YOUR CAUSE.

We were all teens once. We know how tough it is to get through those years,even with help. Our teens are trying to navigate those years under horrendous conditions. As I say over and over again, if it was your kid on the street, you would want all the help you could get.

I'm not asking for your help anymore, though. I'm challenging you to take up this cause for the sake of these kids, our community, our country.

They are the ones who need all the help they can get.....WILL YOU RISE UP?