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?

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