In November 2017, Becky Westerfelt, executive director of Huckleberry House, participated in a Columbus Metropolitan Club panel titled “Unexpected Face of Homelessness: Teens on the Street.” We were overwhelmed by the interest from community members to continue the conversation. So we invited interested people to a casual lunch at the Huck House Crisis Shelter this afternoon.
One of the points Becky made during the panel discussion in November was that we know these children before they turn 18. We see them in our schools and after school programs and at our outreach programs. We should not be surprised to see them in homeless or unstably housed situations when they turn 18. Instead of treating them like they are someone else’s children, central Ohio needs to think of young people as belonging to all of us.
Today’s conversation was based on a framing question:
In our everyday lives, how can we help a child who is not in our immediate family?
A few of the thoughts shared by our guests included
- Help them make healthy connections to healthy adults
- We don’t give up on our own children, why do we give up on children who don’t have resources?
- Just listen
- Be intentional about where you are – do you put yourself in places where you can be a positive influence on young people?
- Think of ways to create experiences for young people who may not have the chance to experience things you do in your daily life
- Call people by their names
Some great ideas came out of today’s discussion. We asked our guests to share their thoughts and reflections in the comments section of this blog post. Read on to see what they had to say. And, please add your own thoughts and reactions.
P.S. Look for a community challenge from Huck House, coming soon!