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I want a Home, Teenage Homelessness in America

Down the train steps, I went. " I am HOMELESS and HUNGRY can you please HELP" read the sign. He looked to be in his late teens perhaps early twenties but I just glanced in a rush, made a mental note and kept going.

Yesterday I went out on a photo shoot to Central Park. It was a cold about 34 degrees day in New York City. I wanted to enjoy the Autumn leaves and all the beautiful colors but halfway through my plans changed. The trees weren't as colorful as I had anticipated, my memory card started acting up so my photos were not being saved and my IPhone died. I walked over to the Bethesda Fountain, which was now shut off and continued towards the Lake which was very still with a few Ducks and all the boats piled up to the side. I took a deep breath, looked around at all the cold faces and began to change my perspective.

I opened my bag, took my portable charger out, connected my phone, and as I glanced down into my bag I noticed my banana, my little snack and thought about the kid/guy in the train station earlier. I frowned and closed my bag. Another mental note. 

Finally, my phone had enough of a charge in which I was able to grab a few moments but that was over twenty blocks just in one direction and if you are familiar with Central Park it's a pretty big park. You can get lost in all that it has to offer. Twenty blocks coming back towards my train, several hours later I began to notice the Homeless people, again I thought about what I had seen earlier.

Statistics report an estimated 2 Million Homeless Youth in America.

Reasons for them being Homeless range:

  • dysfunctional family history
  • sexual and physical abuse at home
  • runaways
  • loss of homes due to a parent losing their job, living in shelters
  • aging out of The System
  • discrimination due to their Sexual Identification and/or Orientation

I stopped to grab a hot chocolate and regroup and thought about my day. I thought about an interview I had heard on the radio with an artist by the name of Raheem DeVaughn, and his organization and what they are doing to help the Homeless Youth in his community. I thought about an old post I had written around this time last year in regards to Poverty and I thought about the many ways we continue to ignore or dismiss Homeless people.

I do a lot of Volunteer work through New York Cares so I have seen first hand Homeless Youth. It should never be something anyone gets use to. I have seen how it breaks away a kids spirit and ages them quickly.

As we get ready for the Holidays I want to again drill into your thoughts the possibility of doing something different this year. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer your Time (obviously)
  • Donate to local shelters
  • create "care packages" for teens and drop off at locations where they are being housed
  • Do your research and see where you can contribute and male a change to some of these "age out of system" laws
  • talk with your children, cultivate the spirit of giving and helping your community

Here are a few links to start your research off:

-Covenant House

-National Network for Youth

-New York Times

-City & State New York

Also, keep in mind that as you look for ways to do your part to HELP no one wants to be treated as a charity case so approach all you do with respect and dignity. Look for ways to resolve an issue not place a temporary band-aid.

I am always humbled by my experiences and the people I meet. Whether it's distributing bags of food, cleaning up a park, coloring with the kids or organizing coat drives I am always aware that the person in front of me can be ME. Can be someone I know or knew and an unfortunate turn of events could have brought them here.

I got off the train, looking forward to walking into my comfy, toasty, home. I see him still there, with his sign and head hanging low. It is now close to 8:30 pm, my adventure started around 2pm. I slow down in front of him, remove my headphones, dig in my bag and grab my banana. I ASK him if he would be interested in it and he says yes. I hand it over and he says Thank You.  

The people just kept rushing past him. I felt sad. I realized my daughter would be coming home from work soon too, looking forward to her own comfy, toasty space. At that moment there was not much else I could do but I knew I gave him at least a little something to eat.

What are your thoughts on the Homeless? Have you ever spoken to one, have you ever even thought about what may have brought them there? Share your experiences and thoughts here.

Always stress-free xo


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