BENEFITING: Huckleberry House Inc
On April 20, 2018, fifty people will sleep out at COSI to raise awareness and funds in support of homeless youth.
Last year, over 520 teens in crisis sought shelter at Huckleberry House. Over 1,000 young people ages 18= to 24 stayed in adult shelters. National and local data estimates 9,275 Franklin County teens are homeless on any given night.
The numbers paint a picture of youth homelessness in Columbus. But our success is in our stories, like this one from TaShaarra.
TaShaarra came to Huck House last November after being homeless for almost 1 year. TaShaarra had been staying with her mom and siblings in a motel the January earlier. 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 last November, 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. 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 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 and she moved into her own apartment in December. 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
The proven programs of Huck House assist youth ages 12-22 overcome challenges and develop the life skills needed to thrive in permanent housing. Funds raised for Sleep Out Columbus will support Huck House's work to support teens and families in crisis and help end youth homelessness.