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Crj 180

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The latest report shows there at 1.6 million youth who face homelessness each year without a parent or guardian and they can’t meet their basic needs (2012, homelesslaw.org). The youths are forced to survive by any means necessary and our local government is concerned about cutting education, jobs and passing budgets. Our youth are in crisis mode. Many youths are dealing with unstable parents with mental illness; a disruptive home and drugs are a huge concern along with assault among our youths. This crisis cause our youth to seek shelter either with gang members or on the street. Gangs and youth is another form of control. The gang lifestyle offer the youngster a stable family with a warm bed and a full stomach. Who wouldn’t do whatever it takes to keep a roof overhead?

My community in California offer two of many programs geared at our juvenile delinquents. The first program is called Wind Youth Services. This program was started in 1994 by two sisters. The nuns rented a small place to help youth who ran away survive on the streets. They provided classes with basic survival skills and resources to break the homelessness cycle. The program provided more youth than space. In 2001 with the help of a Federal Grant, Wind Homeless Shelter was opened. It provided more classes and more volunteers and community outreach. In 2007, with the help of generous donors and outreach programs, Wind opened up a youth center for young people to come and do homework; get tutoring; job outreach as well as a hot meal.

Some of the successful programs have been the life skills program. Today there are more than 3 million kids who are discharged from foster care who will become homeless (2012). In Sacramento, the Wind group has put 237 kids in 2012 through the life skills class. The life skills class provide a life plan for surviving. The young people develop a plan for their life so they can break the cycle. Wind provides help with preparing for job interviews; Hygiene classes; the basics in reading, writing and math and the most important item that stood out was believing in yourself no matter what someone says.

The Wind group opened a Thrift store close by my house and the youth get training in how to service the public and how to handle adverse situations like a young adult. Through this program, a newsletter is written on success and challenges. One of the ongoing challenges is donations of items such as hygiene and personals. I read an article on Billy who refuses to look at the negative in his situation. He came to Wind with his sister 4 years ago and was excited to have a place to study in peace. His mom and step-dad caused a lock of ruckus in the home and he was looking for a way out (windyouth.org). Billy has finished high school and is going to a culinary school in hopes of owning his own restaurant someday. A woman once told Billy “We are inspired by those who, despite unbelievable pain and hardship, have chosen to become victors.” (windyouth.org) Billy said his biggest challenge is learning to support himself and communicating with adults. Wind offered Billy a part time job and his goal is to save up and get a cell phone with a monthly plan to keep up with the job market.

This program came a long way. It started with a dream of two nuns who cared about the people society threw away. The program has a lot of Board members that work in the community like banks and super market chains. One way I would look to improve the program is to get a “name” on the board like a sports player who could draw in some donors through a fund raiser once a year. The program has a wish list of items we take for granite like deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, pajamas, etc. A fundraiser like poker night with raffle prizes and local celebrity guest could fund this program for a year. Wind serves 90, 000+ meals a year. They are looking for volunteers to cook a meal once a week, if not more. There are a lot of partnering activities that could be helpful.

Looking at the Board, I did not see any police presence, active or retired on the board. They could use an officer of the law to help this program mentor the youth. Every youth who runs away is not a bad person but choices can turn a youth to a delinquent. Someone from law enforcement can come in once a week and talk to these youths about the realities they see with life on the street. You never know who is listening and they can save a youth from crime and also offer alternatives.

There is another program in the Sacramento area which is a Youth Diversity program called SHOCK. This program is operated through the Sheriff program and they provide guidance and hopefully positive leadership to the at-risk youth of the community. SHOCK mean Self-Discipline; Honor; Obedience; Character and Knowledge (sacscip.org). Their mission is to deter the youth by partnering with the community to offer the at-risk youth alternatives.

The program was started by Sheriff and a principal who looked for youth who were headed in the wrong direction. The school recommend the youth for the program based on criteria seen in the child that could provide risky behavior in the future. The program is about 6 months long with emphasis on redirecting the behavior. The program offers community volunteer events as part of the respect, integrity and positive reinforcements.

I like this program because it offers at-risk youth a chance to come out of their environment and do something that is foreign to them. The program offers sports program like a summer camp, horseback riding, scuba diving and many other competitive events. This provide the youth to think out situations before making a decision. This program provides alternatives and rewards to redirected behavior.

One idea I would propose is to get the word out about these programs in the smaller communities. There are youth who are bored during the summer months, they can volunteer as a role model for some of these youth. It is nice to have the Policeman or Sheriff in your face to provide structure but having someone your own age who can show you versus tell you about the choices they have made. This will go a long way to a youth, especially one on the border. My son couldn’t find a volunteer job nowhere because everyone was concerned about the insurance. My child is active and he would have loved to mentor these kids in a game of basketball or show them how to take pride in yourself.

The two programs I researched are really good programs for our community. I wish there was a way to bring more attention to these programs. Billy is a young man who should be finished with college and enjoying the decision making of life like where to go hang out with his friends or meet up with a girlfriend. This young man is hoping to make enough money to pay for a cell phone so he can look for jobs. My heart goes out to him. I am looking for volunteer opportunities with this program after I finish school. I know I can make a difference and now I have to let Wind know.

Works Cited

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; 2012. September, www.homeless.org retried on February 18, 2014.

www.windyouth.org Retried on February 18, 2014

www. sacscip.org Retried on February 18, 2014

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