My former student, an exceptional young man who has NEVER given up, even after enduring an incredible amount of adversity, is in need of help and support. In spite of losing his parents at a young age and being raised sporadically by older siblings, his willingness to always try to do the right thing has been admirable to the many who know him. Around 2015-2016, he was forced to leave his only home, a place where he lived since he was 5 years old, and fend for himself. He was essentially homeless at 18, sleeping here and there, mostly on friend’s and family’s couches. My school begged and I begged him to go to a shelter and get services. He was petrified. He said “I can’t do it. This can’t actually be my life. I am not a person who needs to live in a shelter.” And, for the next 2 years, he patched together a life getting help from friends and family, working hard, and living out of a few backpacks. Thankfully, through his hardwork and perseverance, and the kindness of others, he graduated Abington HS in 2016 despite not having a stable home, parents, or a support staff outside the walls of Abington HS. All the while, he has kept the same job for 4 years, a job he first earned in the 10th grade when he was my student.
He and I have kept in touch after he graduated through email. I would email him, probably every other month, and ask if he was ok and I always told him to send me a sign if ever he wasn’t. I received countless positive replies back from him, until last Wednesday morning, January 17th, he sent the signal that he was no longer okay. The email was brief but I knew he had hit a wall. He is truly homeless. Two years removed from HS, he had run out of places to turn, favors to ask and couches to sleep on. I wouldn’t have lasted a week...he lasted two and a half years with nothing. My husband and I, along with the relentless support of my sister-in-law, Amy, have spent the last few days calling crisis lines, county services, and resource offices. He has done everything we have asked him to do, putting his mighty pride aside knowing that it needs to be done. It continues to be a journey down a yellow-brick road where each new friend we meet leads us to another avenue of resources. There are some amazing people out there. We got him in to a shelter for the 1st two nights, thanks to the “Code Blue” declaration. But, the forecast is expected to not activate another Code Blue for the next week so we are working to get other plans in place. He is on a waiting list for a permanent shelter through the county's homeless services. Until then, he must live on the street (no couches allowed) until his name comes up on the list, which could take months. In the meantime, he has no ID, no birth certificate, no SS card, and no proof of residency to start obtaining these documents.
So, we are trying to go a different route which includes the support of us and his community to get him the help he needs without having to go through the long and arduous channels of the homeless system. Our ambitious goal is to obtain donations to secure the rental or down-payment of a small apartment in the Abington area (which will establish residency to begin receiving services), new clothes and shoes, legitimate employment, and medical and dental services. These things translate into the beginnings of an adult life that he can be proud of and where he can honestly turn his life around. A life where he will be able to turn around and pay it forward to someone in a similar situation.
This is one of those truly life-changing moments. Never have I met a more worthy receipent of our generous support. This is a success story in the making, I really believe that. Please let me know if you have any questions, ideas, suggestions, or connections that can aide in our quest. We can use all the help we can get.