“We sleep in public parks; it draws less attention than parking lots. My “bed” is a few panels of cardboard outside. It’s difficult to sleep in the backseat of our car since I’m over six feet tall at 16 years old. My dad attaches a water hose to spigots for us to shower. Showering outside with cold water from the hose is miserable.
My family and I were forced to move out of our trailer because we couldn’t afford the weekly rent. My dad suggested we live in our car to save money. My dad buys a microwave and keeps it in the car on top of our picnic cooler, which serves as our freezer. This situation continues for the next eight months: find a park to sleep in, discretely heat our food, wake up early and leave for school/work before we get caught.
When my family does not receive mail sent to our old address, I am forced to spill my story to my school guidance counselor. She recommends Starting Right, Now (SRN), a program for homeless teens. It sounds too good to be true. I am interviewed and shortly after I move into their transitional housing facility. The other students all come from diverse backgrounds with different stories, but we all have one thing in common – we are homeless.
“Students all come from diverse backgrounds with different stories, but we all have one thing in common – we are homeless.”
After a few short weeks, the program changes my life. They help me to have a place to sleep, food, a savings account, a job and tutoring. I participate in computer classes, leadership class, and a diversity retreat. I never did well in school or knew how to express my emotions, but SRN helps me overcome my obstacles. My grades are improving. I’ve been able to experience things I’ve never been exposed to, such as eating at a nice restaurant. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I never thought college would be possible. I no longer wonder if I’m going to college; I wonder which college I will go to. I also want to give back to my community by volunteering at schools and sharing my story with kids in situations similar to mine. I want to be an example of hard work paying off.”
—Testimonial from an SRN participant
Starting Right, Now (SRN) meets the needs of a growing population of homeless, unaccompanied youth. SRN intervenes with a uniquely holistic approach. We created a comprehensive curriculum to empower our youth.
In addition to housing stability, food, academic support and life-skill classes, each student is paired with a mentor who becomes their advocate, guiding them with emotional support. Each student has access to health insurance, food stamps, banking (financial literacy) and a network of support. We work with each student to propel them to the military, vocational training or higher education.
SRN intercedes at a critical juncture, breaking the generational cycle of poverty. Unlike other organizations, we provide a deep, holistic and personal approach to end homelessness, one child at a time. We are not a hand-out, we are not a band-aid. We cure homelessness and achieve remarkable results. Join us. Starting Right, Now.