Reader Opinion: Give kids a leg up
November is National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month. Last year, Lutheran Social Service in Brainerd helped 180 youths who needed emergency shelter and longer-term housing, basic hygiene supplies, food, help reunifying with their families when p...
November is National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month. Last year, Lutheran Social Service in Brainerd helped 180 youths who needed emergency shelter and longer-term housing, basic hygiene supplies, food, help reunifying with their families when possible and guidance on next steps.
A common struggle we hear from these kids is they don't have a stable adult in their lives they can count on. When kids can't go home they sometimes stay with a friend, in a precarious situation with an acquaintance or wander with nowhere to go. For these kids, the first 24 hours on their own are full of danger because drug dealers and sexual predators are looking for vulnerable kids like them.
Catching these youths early is crucial. Helping them find safe shelter and support from caring adults can make all the difference. The Search Institute reports all kids need caring adults in their lives. If you have a heart for kids, there are many ways you can help.
Good neighbors from our community are already connecting with these youths by helping them learn important life skills in our independent living skills classes. Professionals volunteer to teach them wise money management and how to be a good tenant. Others stock our food shelves and provide hygiene supplies. We would also welcome people who want to share a hobby or skill with our youths, such as car repair or sewing. When youths find an apartment, they also desperately need basics like bedding, cleaning items and kitchen supplies that are expensive for youth to buy on their own.
We can do so much more together. Over the holidays, my hope is that more good neighbors in our community will connect with us to give these kids a leg up, let them know they matter and help them become successful.
Program Manager, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota