Photo by Matt Hatcher, a photojournalist whose work can be found at www.mhatcherphotography.com/homelessness/

Youth Homelessness | By: Kyra Crockett

Photo by Matt Hatcher, a photojournalist whose work can be found at www.mhatcherphotography.com/homelessness/

Imagine being somewhere (like school, work, community center or a library) and not knowing where you are going next when it is time for those doors to close. Imagine riding the COTA bus for hours just to use up some of your idle time. Imagine having no consistent support system to lean on when things are scary, unsafe or unknown. Maybe today a friend’s parents fell asleep early so you could sneak in their basement for a while. Two nights ago you were sleeping in a tent campsite along the railroad tracks. The night before that, you were in the Grant Hospital ER hoping to blend in so you can sleep. Night to night, the scene changes with only one consistency — nowhere to call home.

Unfortunately, hundreds of homeless youth experience homelessness right here in Columbus, Ohio. Families who are exactly like people you know experience situations that push them into crisis for a period of time. Some families can work through it and eventually move on from it. Other families struggle to the point of a teen running away, parents kicking kids out or parents leaving their children behind when they move on. Homelessness is something no one should have to experience, let alone a youth.

Although there are many facets that play into the WHY, our efforts need to address PREVENTING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. For those that are already there, how do we ensure their safety and rebuild their spirits?

Whether we blame the lack of housing options for young people or we blame the kids for being disrespectful or we point our fingers at the parents for not caring enough…it doesn’t change the fact that this goes on daily. The costs to our community, our families and our children are too great to ignore.

Talk to the kids in your lives! Make sure they have someone in their life (even if it’s not you) that they feel comfortable talking to about tough topics. And, as parents IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP AS WELL! None of us are perfect, so let’s stop acting as so!

-Kyra Crockett, Youth Outreach Program Manager

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Healthy Recipes from Local Matters

Check out these healthy and delicious recipes from Local Matters!

Guacamole

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Steamed Broccoli

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

Turkey Tacos

Vegetable and Cheese Frittata

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Youth and Yoga and Why it Matters

We are focusing on healthy living during March. Former Huck House caseworker and guest blogger Candace McDowall is a Connection Coalition volunteer who brings yoga to the crisis shelter.

My last paid day as a case manager at Huck House was almost 20 years ago. That place and those people still have my heart. You can tell, because I just can’t stay away.

Yoga Gangsters (now called Connection Coalition) is a non-profit organization that collaborates with schools, jails, foster homes, crisis centers and rehabs across 17 states to bring yoga, meditation and mindfulness to youth. As a part of this amazing group of volunteers, I knew that Huck House was the perfect place for this type of work with our young people.

One of the things I love best about teaching yoga in this setting is what happens to participants in the short span of 40 minutes or so. Every time I came, EVERY TIME, at least one person in the group, and often all of them, would start by saying “I can’t do YOGA.” And by the end, usually the loudest detractors were working the hardest to show off their moves or practice a crazy-looking pose.

But my favorite was always the one kid who would insist on not participating. Halfway through the class, when no one else could see, as I said to the group, “Ok, now take a really deep breath…”, I would get a glimpse of him or her, eyes half closed in feigned apathy, inhaling and exhaling deeply in rhythm with the group. To me, that was the most important breath in the room. The one who was trying not to be engaged, but couldn’t help being a part of something so simple and yet so brilliant. The deep cleansing breath.

Often, by the end of class, when the others were chatty and laughing at the crazy stuff we did, the loner who sat out the earlier stuff would agree to lie down on a mat for, what I always consider the dessert of yoga. The good stuff. The reward for the hard work that looks suspiciously like sleeping, but is actually a blissful respite from the chaos of their world.

In these moments, active, restless, young people who have rarely sat still for more than 30 seconds, whose parents and teachers would insist that they were incapable of self-controlled quiet time, would all lie down, in whatever positions they found comfortable, quiet, listening to the music, relaxed, and even, on occasion, meditative. Once, a staff person stuck her head back in the room, because she thought we must have left. “They’ve never been this quiet. Ever.”

Yoga capture

This is how I know it works. This is how every young person in the room begins to feel at peace within themselves, on their own, in control, and liking that feeling. Those otherwise elusive moments of calm and security, that they were able to accomplish inside their own bodies and minds, are the building blocks of the self-control and mindfulness they need to move on from Huck House back into a chaotic world, but now with the knowledge that they are in possession of skills they didn’t even know they had. And it all started with that one beautiful breath.

 

Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15), Huck House executive director Becky Westerfelt, and Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3).

Homeless Children and Youth Act Reintroduced at Huck House

Today, Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) announced the reintroduction of the Homeless Children and Youth Act at the Huckleberry House. This legislation, which is cosponsored by Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA), provides a more accurate system for the federal government to understand the problem of youth homelessness and help better serve this population. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) […]

We Can Go ANYWHERE, 20th Annual Youth Awards

20th Annual Youth Awards Presented by Huck House

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Grange Insurance Headquarters, 671 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43206

The Youth Awards recognize and celebrate youth who have dealt with some of the most difficult problems imaginable. Issues like abuse, violence, neglect, poverty, and homelessness. Community organizations who work with youth across central Ohio are invited to nominate young people. The Youth Awards winners are recognized as outstanding individuals who are moving toward the future they want. Proceeds of the Youth Awards Dinner benefit the proven programs of Huckleberry House. For information about sponsorships, please click here. Read more

Why is it so hard to leave

Why is it so hard to leave?

I can only speak from experience……

Why is it so hard to leave an abusive lover? I have 4 main reasons why I didn’t.

My childhood, I watched my mom love a man who abused her, she never left and never told me those things weren’t ok. Somewhere in my mind, I thought things like this were supposed to happen. No one was around to teach and show me how a man really was supposed to treat you.

I loved him, this boy was my family, my best friend and more. It’s hard to let go of someone who was so close to you. Something that used to be strong and was planned to be forever. Some people stick to their vows no matter what happens. Even those that aren’t even married. Some people are just committed to what they want to happen. Sometimes your abuser can still be kind and be very sweet at times to the point you forgive him over and over again. But they turn around and do the same thing, that’s manipulated love. But of course we let them think that what they are doing to us is ok because at the end of the day that boy has you right where he wants you. He knows you will come back, he knows you won’t leave. This boy was the first guy I knew he took me in and protected me from the world. He became closer to me than any other male. The boy I once knew is gone, but in my heart I just knew that boy would come back, and all I needed to do was wait for him to return. But will he ever?

Low self-esteem, he made me think that no one loved me but him. He made me think I wasn’t pretty anymore. He made me think that there was no one out there that would love me like he did. So why leave? Who wants to be alone? But who wants to be with a stranger? That boy made me think I wasn’t capable of doing anything in life. That boy made me feel like a bad girlfriend, a bad daughter and the worst mother ever. Nothing I did was good enough for that boy. That boy made me give up on myself.

Then there’s fear, what if I did get up and leave, what would happen to me? Knowing that I can’t defeat this boy and battling is not what I wanted to do. When was the coast clear to leave? Will I even be safe if I go? Will he find me and hurt me even worse than before? I don’t want to see him hurting in jail because I still love him. I don’t want to go, I still love him. Even when we finally leave we somehow find a way back. Only because we were manipulated into believing that this is it.

Nobody out here loves me. I don’t have many options, I don’t know where to go. We look at everybody else around us differently. This boy was once my protector and now I need to be protected from him.

My abuser was insecure, an alcoholic and a cheater. He wanted everything to be my fault and to feel as low as he felt. Sometimes we don’t know what’s wrong with our abusers. Why they do the things they do. Maybe someone did the same thing to them that they are doing to you. Maybe they grew up believing certain situations are ok. A lot of people’s childhoods affect everything in their life….

Pay attention to change. Know what change is. Know when change is happening. Don’t be blinded by love. Don’t let love manipulate you. Don’t settle for less, learn what’s right, know what’s right and don’t ever let a boy take your rights away. Most importantly know that a boy and a man are two different kinds of people.

-Lucy, age 19, survivor in the domestic violence track of Huck House’s Transitional Living Program

First Date vs. Reality

While it would be nice to have a clearly written assessment of a potential new partner at the first date, this is not reality.

 

Imagine a first date. You arrive in a carefully-selected outfit at a casual restaurant to meet your date. Over dinner, you talk about your hobbies, work, and family. Conversation is fun and natural. You split the check. Before you decide to take off, your date reaches across the table and punches you in the face.

What would you do? Read more

2016 Year In Review | By: Katie Armstrong

Now that the holiday season is over and the new year has begun, I want to take a moment to reflect on the Holidays and 2016 at Huck House. Read more

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Beliefs Hanging in the Balance | By Jerome DeCarlo

December is a month full of anticipation, excitement and fear. We anticipate the fellowship of family, the excitement of the Holidays and fear the rapidly approaching end of the year. In our daily interactions we may also experience these same emotions. The anticipation of meeting new people, coupled with the excitement of developing a connection […]

giving-tuesday

It’s Giving Tuesday!

We hope you will consider making a gift to Huck House today. With the holiday season here, you’re gift can bring a much needed dose of comfort and joy to young people struggling to overcome some tough obstacles, like homelessness, abuse, and neglect. With your support, we can make the season a bit brighter, and we can help our community’s youth find the hope, resources, and support they need to set a new, positive direction for 2017.

Best wishes, the Huck House Team.