America’s Homeless Youth: Post-risk, but not post-care
“Furthermore, homeless youth face difficulties attending school because of legal guardianship requirements, residency requirements, improper records, and lack of transportation. As a result, homeless youth face severe challenges in obtaining an education and supporting themselves emotionally and financially.” National Coalition for the Homeless
When you think of homeless kids, what comes to mind? I think kids asking for spare change, kids who have pit bull puppies tied to rope. I remember all of the times I walked by them, thinking to myself: Why don’t you just get a job and wash your hair? This is the easy thing to think - if fixes nothing; it doesn’t make my community better, and it’s callous.
Then I happened upon p:ear, here in Portland, Oregon. A friend of mine suggested that I use my quilting skills to work with these kids and create a quilt. What I learned is that p:ear does what few people are willing or capable of doing: They meet these kids, often very volatile and difficult to be around, at the page they are on. Some of these kids require months of just being able to sit and read in the library before even talking to anyone. Some come in on day one and utilize the art supplies, reveal everything and make themselves at home. Others require a fine line between boundaries and freedom.
Many of these kids have been juggled by the system, and they don’t trust authority figures - rightly so in many cases. But because p:ear is operated by private funding, they aren’t forced to abide by laws or textbook how-to guidelines when working with these kids. And it shows.
I marveled at how the p:ear team carefully dealt with each youth based on subjectivity and honesty. This kind of attention is what will eventually get these kids off of the streets and into productive lives.
P:ear recently started a GED program for their kids that allows them to study for and take the test at their own pace. For many of these kids, this is a huge step and their first real sense of accomplishment. They aren’t forced to study, they aren’t stuck in a cubicle with a social worker - they are free to study and work with tutors in the environment that they know and trust: p:ear.
P:ear is a unique organization. It takes a group of gifted, tender and tough individuals to serve the thousands of kids that they have served in their 11 years of operation. As a society, we are responsible to these kids - and it’s in our best interest to do so. By helping organizations like p:ear, you will become one of the thousands of silent parents that these kids don’t even realize they have.
Major kudos to p:ear and the community for supporting our community’s street kids… .