Making a Difference for Homeless Youth

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The word “youth” is often associated with innocence, hope, and promise. Sadly, for some this is far from reality as they are robbed of their youth by cruel and unforgiving circumstances. Recently, records from a homeless system in Kern County, CA, showed that out of 254 impoverished youth between 18 and 24, 216 were living on the street. Furthermore, data indicated that more than a quarter of those came from the foster care system.

One of those individuals is Cynthia Lira-Martinez, who entered foster care at eight and was in and out of the system until she was 18 years old. Cynthia’s story includes having to sleep in public restrooms, giving birth to a daughter, and escaping domestic violence — all by the age of 17. When she found the Kern County Network for Children Dream Center, she finally gained a moment of respite from her sad reality. The support and resources at the Dream Center allowed her to get out of her dire situation, find a job, and secure stable accommodation.

The Dream Center focuses on providing support for foster youth up to 24 years old. Cynthia credits the Dream Center with saving her life, and now mentors others in difficult positions as she once was. “I just tell them; I am here, and you can make it here too. There is no way you can’t change your life around from what we grew up knowing.”

The Dream Center isn’t the only organization looking to make its mark on the growing homelessness epidemic. The KHSD Lynx, started by Melissa Benson, welcomes all homeless youth and provides hygiene kits, clothing, and shoes to those in need. Melissa and her husband focus on providing the basics to students in ways that don’t make it obvious that they are struggling with homelessness. And because they are not state funded, they can help more students. Their success is allowing them to expand their operations into neighboring rural communities.

Homelessness is a sad reality. But organizations like the Dream Center and Lynx are making their mark and making a difference one person at a time. Read more about their work here.

At Sheltering Grace, we strive to make a difference in those left behind. Our great team of like-minded people is passionate about helping homeless mothers and babies end their devastating cycle of homelessness. Please contact us at 678-337-7858 to learn how you can help. Your one act of kindness can make all the difference to mothers and babies in need.

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