My daughter had the good fortune of being raised in a family that provided unconditional love, a college education, and the tools to be a productive, happy adult. But, what about young women who don’t have the promise of a future, unconditional love, or the tools needed to be a confident adult? Unfortunately, there are young women who live with that reality every day, and some of them end up homeless. Typically, these young women have been raised in a family with little or no limits, unstable parents, and were perhaps victims of abuse. According to the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, approximately 750,000 to 2 million young adults between the ages of 18-24 are homeless and the numbers are increasing.
Last year I had the privilege of joining the Board of Directors for 360 Youth Services here in Illinois. This organization provides life-changing services to youth through prevention education, counseling, and shelter. As a new board member, I learned about the various services offered to a wide range of children and young adults. But the program that caught my eye and heart was THP-Transitional Housing Program. This program serves young adults, men and women between 18-22 years old, who are homeless. THP gives residents security, education, and counseling as well as tools to be successful adults; it’s an incredible program.
This past fall, however, we learned that our young women’s THP program did not receive funding. There are currently seven girls in the program (with more on the waiting list) who are about to lose their security and be back out on the streets. The Transitional Housing Program has been wildly successful, with 98 percent of residents leaving the program to stable housing and solid employment. With all of the good that this program offers such as empowering young women to get a job, go to college, and contribute positively to society, it seems insane to eliminate it.
And it gets worse. In the state of Illinois there are only three programs like THP, only three! In the county where I live, 1,500 persons visited homeless shelters in 2012 and homeless youth is the fastest-growing segment of that group.360 Youth Services receives calls every day from young women looking for an opportunity to become educated, employed, and counseled toward a better life. Shouldn’t every young woman have that chance?
The girls that come in to the program cannot be pregnant, must be drug free, and attend regular therapy and group sessions. They are required to work and attend school and many of the girls go on to college. There are girls waiting to get in to this program as I write this, yet the seven girls currently in the program are left wondering about their fate.
Momentumnation is all about education, inspiration, and support of Moms all over the world. My hope is that as women, we can come together and share our support for this program so that it will not only keep a roof over the current residents heads, but may continue on for those girls seeking a second chance at life. If we can get the Transitional Housing Program program back on its feet, perhaps we can raise awareness about homeless young women all over the country that have nowhere to go.
I ask you for your with this campaign. A Dollar for our Daughters is an opportunity for a daughter to realize a better future. Please visit the site and see the video of the THP women sharing their story. It will break your heart but also raise awareness about homeless young women. The upside is that you can make an immediate impact by offering a donation of your choice and passing the link on to other women. Together, what a difference we can make. The power of women coming together is a force to be reckoned with, and I’m grateful that you are part of the force.
What other steps are you taking to help young women in need?