In 2017, 532 teens ages 12-17 stayed at Huck House, central Ohio's only 24-hour shelter for teens. And 76 young adults ages 18-22 did the hard work in Huck House's 18-month transitional living program as they made the move from homelessness to permanent housing.
On April 20, 2018, I am joining other concerned central Ohioans to SLEEP OUT for those young people, and for the 160 young people who visited the Huck House Youth Outreach Program Shop to connect with resources. We will sleep outside at COSI on that night to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth.
I am also sleeping out to support my Huck House co-workers who make an undeniable impact on the youth and families they meet each day.
Thank you for supporting this important work!
I'm sharing a story of a Huck House youth, TaShaarra. This is her story as told by her crisis counselor:
TaShaarra came to Huck House in November 2016 after being homeless for almost 1 year. TaShaarra had been staying with her mom and siblings in a motel in January of that year. The family was admitted into the Family Shelter in February, but after 21 days, TaShaarra’s mom was not able to find housing, and the family was discharged unsuccessfully (without housing). TaShaarra’s mom told TaShaarra she was on her own. TaShaarra later disclosed that mom is suffering from mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, and is a sex worker. TaShaarra was only 16 years old when her mom told TaShaarra she was on her own.
Not knowing what to do, TaShaarra asked an acquaintance if she could stay with her. TaShaarra told the acquaintance she was 18 years old, concerned that the acquaintance would not allow TaShaarra to stay with her, if she knew TaShaarra was a minor. TaShaarra dropped out of school and obtained employment at a fast food restaurant. She was able to pay rent to her friend, but the friend soon discovered TaShaarra was not 18 years old, and told TaShaarra she had to leave.
TaShaarra stayed with her boyfriend, Lloyd for a few months before coming to Huck House. TaShaarra says that he was verbally abusive and cheated on her often. She says that Lloyd is on the streets, gang-bangs and wastes his potential. She said that she would often look to God for signs that she should leave Lloyd, but felt that he was literally the only person she had. Due to homelessness and not being enrolled in school, she had no other social/peer or family support.
One day in November 2016, TaShaarra went to the Health Department. TaShaarra said Lloyd was there, and was publically berating her when a nurse stepped in and asked Lloyd to leave. The nurse then told TaShaarra she should come to Huck House, which she had learned about from the Huck House Youth Outreach team. This nurse took TaShaarra to the store, bought her a prepaid cell phone and toiletries and dropped her off at Huck House. TaShaarra thought this was the sign from God for which she had been searching. She thought this nurse was her Guardian Angel.
TaShaarra was a perfect candidate for Transitional Living, but unfortunately there were no openings. TaShaarra stayed at Huck House for about a month. She had no issues meeting goals she set with her counselors. She got along well with staff and youth. She participated in counseling. She enjoyed the stability that the Crisis Program brought to her life. Little by little, her mood seemed to improve. She became more hopeful and less anxious about her future. She started to talk about her future goals of finishing high school and enrolling in Columbus State to study Social Work.
As fate would have it, a spot opened in Huck House’s Transitional Living Program. She moved into her own apartment. She has stable housing, is enrolled in school and seeking employment. Each time I see her, she thanks me and tells me how grateful she is for what we did for her life. I remind her each time I see her that is her resilience, faith, hard work and healthy choices that got her to where she is today.