The effects of our troubled economy are very much apparent today in our community. With every foreclosure sign placed on the lawn of a peaceful suburban home, a family is struggling to make ends meet. Teens affected by these rough economic times are forced to face a reality that they are not prepared for.
Every year, a report is released that accounts for every homeless student attending high school in the William S. Hart School District. The numbers are shocking, to say the least.
In the 2009 report, 696 students were considered homeless. Of this figure, 613 students lived with other families, 43 students were unsheltered, 26 were sheltered in community homeless shelters, and 15 were living in hotels or motels.
This number is heartbreaking because it really proves that the effects of our economy are all around us but yet many do not believe it.
The stress a homeless teen must deal with is unfathomable but the schools in the Hart District try to contribute as much as possible in order to help the students feel more at ease.
The school works individually with the identified student to enable them to purchase the supplies they need to be academically successful. Discounted lunches also help allow students to receive a lunch, worry free.
Unfortunately, many do not realize that this problem is growing.
Terry Comp, volunteer for the non-profit organization, Family Promise, said, “The need in our valley is much greater than we realized. A lot of people just can’t fathom it.”
Family Promise works with the local faith community to leverage resources that already exist in order to provide the best services they can for families struggling with homelessness.
In their upcoming event, Cardboard Box City, Family Promise will simulate the homeless life for one night in order to raise funds and awareness to support their cause.
“It’s heartbreaking to see the potential go to waste in a young person who can’t study for tests because there is no home to study in,” said Mary Ellen Kearney, volunteer for Family Promise and teacher at Hart High, “and who can’t apply for scholarships because there is no address to fill in on the application or who can not achieve their full potential because they have to work a fulltime job in order for their little brothers and sister to eat.”
Comp said, “Imagine being a kid in high school and while everybody else is worrying about going to prom, you are worried about how you are going to go to college.”
With a little effort, we can educate ourselves on this serious issue and help provide relief to homeless teens.
To read more about Cardboard Box City and Family Promise, click here.