Nikia suffered a personal tragedy that would bring most of us to our knees. Two years ago, her mother was murdered in front of her. During the days following her mother’s death, Nikia looked to Walnut Ridge High School for support. She questioned how normalcy would ever return to her life. Slowly she began to […]
Kareena left an abusive and violent relationship with the father of her daughter and came to Huck House unsure of what she wanted in life. She was unsure how to be on her own. Over the past year, she has worked tremendously hard on making a better life for herself and her child. She has […]
Micheal is an amazing young man. Mike is being raised by his father and has had many struggles with stable housing. Mike is constantly faced with the challenges of being a young black male in the inner city. When Mike entered Walnut Ridge High School as a freshman, he was unsuccessful academically and was removed […]
Sharon was removed from her home at a very young age due to physical abuse and spent most of her childhood bouncing between various family members’ homes. Sharon always felt like no one wanted her and did not think there was a point to trying to make any situation work. Feeling unwanted made Sharon angry […]
Meet the 2017 Huck House Youth Award Winners! On Tuesday, May 30, we will honor ten amazing young people at the 20th Annual Youth Awards presented by Huck House. On Tuesday, May 3, 2017, the Youth Award Winners and their nominators gathered for a chance to meet and learn about the Huck House Youth Awards […]
The article below, from Lake News Online, focuses on youth homelessness in Missouri, but contains national statistics worth sharing.
To read the full article go to http://www.lakenewsonline.com/news/20170329/how-we-got-here-why-our-youth-wind-up-homeless
How We Got Here: Why our youth wind up ‘homeless’
By Amy Wilson, Natalie Sanders, Cody Mroczka, Corbin Kottmann and Dan Field / firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Juveniles are just 24 percent of the total U.S. population, they make up around 34 percent of all people living in poverty.”
- “In 2013, the poverty rate for single-mother families was 39.6 percent, nearly five times the rate of married-couple families.”
- “Between 2008 and 2010 [The Great Recession], the number of multiple families living together increased by at least 12 percent.”
- “Between 20 to 50 percent of homeless women cite intimate partner violence as the primary cause of their homelessness.” (Bassuk et al., 1996; Browne & Bassuk, 1997; Guarino & Bassuk, 2010; Hayes et al., 2013)
- “According to Child Trends Data Bank’s Homeless Children and Youth Report in 2015, surveys of city officials in the U.S. cited mental illness, substance abuse and lack of affordable housing as the most frequently cited reasons for unaccompanied youth.”
We have too many kids falling through cracks that we’ve created. Youth fall fast and hard into poverty on their 18th birthday. Just look at the number of transition age youth in the adult homeless shelter if you want evidence that we are not doing as well as we think. Last year almost 1,000 people in the adult shelter were between the ages of 18-24. In fact, 29% of the families in the adult family shelters were headed by people between the ages of 18-24. While we are rightfully concerned about kids who “age out of foster care”, that group is a fraction of the youth I’m talking about. What is true, however, is that most of those youth spent time in foster care or were served by many of the youth agencies in Franklin County. I know there are many committees and organizations talking about how we as a community should respond. But those of us in the youth-serving part of our human services community are not asking ourselves the hard question, “did we do everything we could when these young people were with us to prepare them to live independently, safely and with hope for their future?”
The three most common comments with which teens greet our Youth Outreach Specialists are: “I need money;” “I don’t have any place to stay;” and “me and my Mom got into it again.” Just in hearing these words from a struggling young adult we recognize that the reality of a “basic need” for a transition-age homeless youth (17-25 years old) is more complicated than the traditional, tangible interpretation of food, shelter and clothing. These young adults are chronologically old enough to transition through the adult shelter system to independent living; but they do not have the life skills, literacy, or requisite intangible adult support to succeed through the process. Making connections to community programs and resources is not enough. These young people are battling numerous, significant social, emotional and mental health barriers that require time and space with adults available to guide and support them.
Becky Westerfelt, MSW
Executive Director of the Huckleberry House
Chakhinia “Chi Chi” Galbraith, 18 years old, is a self-taught artist who has enjoyed art since she was a young child. Ironically, when Chi Chi would get in to trouble, her mother would make her do art as a punishment. She now uses it as a past time to escape reality. Chi Chi’s favorite area of focus in art is Anime. Anime is short for Japanese animation often and is characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes. Chi Chi feels that in the world of anime, the possibilities are unlimited and that is intriguing to her.
When the Huck House youth outreach team met her, Chi Chi was living on the land. Her outreach worker asked her to paint a picture that answers the question “What does it feel like to be homeless?” and the painting above is what she created. Her painting now hangs in the YOP (Youth Outreach Program) Shop at 893 East 11th Avenue in Columbus.
Chi Chi is now living in the Huck House Transitional Living Program. In her spare time, she also enjoys hanging out with friends, listening to music and watching anime on TV.
Check out these healthy and delicious recipes from Local 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.”
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.