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Joe’s Place: A Home For The Homeless

We have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem that we just can’t solve.Linda Lingle

Seeing a boy or a girl with a broken family struggling to get through high school is not a surprising sight, especially in America where at least one in every five children is homeless. The reason could be anything; addict mom or an abusive dad; it could be anything.

Several survey reports indicate an increasing rate of homeless children in America, children who have not yet cleared high school; teenagers. It is these children from broken families who often fail to get through high school, let alone go to college. It is because these children do not have a stable home, their living conditions are not stable which affects their studies too. Most of the high school dropouts turn out to be these very homeless children with no home to go to.

Problems Faced By Homeless Kids

Imagine being a kid merely 14 years old with who spends more time in drinking and sleeping, eating or talking all at the same time or a mom who left you a long time ago or try being a 10 year old girl with an abusive father who doesn’t even need an excuse to get started with the beating. What is the life of such children? They hardly get enough money to try to get through one day at a time. These are the children who are supposed to have time only to play and study; the children who are supposed to have big dreams about their future and huge smiles on their faces; but, are forced into living under the shadows of misery instead.

Homeless, especially youth homelessness; the homelessness of children is a curse for America and a hurdle in its way to progress and prosperity.

According to a campaign launched to End Child Homelessness,

“Approximately 1.6 million American children go to sleep without a home of their own each year.”

While, the National Alliance to End Homelessness states,

“On a given night, just over 636,000 people are homeless in the United States.”

It is observed that most of the teenaged children with unstable and broken family circumstances hardly make it through high school because of either lack of necessities or mental instability caused by the stressful atmosphere of their homes. It is because of these circumstances that such children end up being criminals or thieves in the future when they fail to get proper jobs due to their lack of academic qualifications.

 Dennis Kucinich rightly says,

We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.

Children who grow up in unstable circumstances are like ticking time bombs that can go off any moment. That is because life gets so tough on them even from the start that chances are they could give up on all the good things they thought existed.

 

Joe’s Place: A Home for the Homeless

However, no matter how tough it gets, there will always be good people, the knights in shining armors who will always be there to help you out; people who cry at the miseries of others. Joe’s place is a solid proof of the existence of such guardian angels; a proof that someone in the world, somewhere in the world cares.

In 2006, a school district in Missouri, Maplewood Richmond Heights took the first step to provide a home to the homeless called “Joe’s Place”. It was a home owned by the school district that provides a comfortable and homely atmosphere to homeless children struggling to graduate high school. Even though the house cannot accommodate all of the students but it is a first step to the final solution to youth homelessness. Children are provided with free food and shelter during their education period at school. They are allowed to spend weekends with their families. The house parents act as fosters parents and help the children in homework and arrange other family activities like movie nights, picnics etc.

Presten Pinnel, a freshman at the University of Central Missouri studying Occupational Therapy, was once a homeless kid with no one to look after him after his dad was sent to prison. He was in the sophomore year of High School at that time. After his dad went to jail, he hardly had any money to get through the day, no one was there to get him food; he had to prepare it on his own.

Life was so tough; he had no place to study at home and he’d sleep at his friend’s place, sleeping on the couch. He was never so sure if he’d ever be able to make it through high school; wondering if he would even be able to afford basic school supplies for the next year or not.

The school authorities knew about his domestic issues. Had it been some other school district, they wouldn’t have been able to provide him with anything other than donations for school supplies or after-school tutoring. But what the Maplewood Richmond Heights school district did for him was exceptional; he was given a chance to live in a healthy environment; a stable home.

He moved into Joe’s place right after his junior year started and life started to seem more like a blessing than a curse. He says,

“One thing I know for sure is if it wasn’t for Joe’s, I wouldn’t be at the university I’m at now.”

Joe’s Place was the first step to providing a stable and homely atmosphere to children who were either homeless or struggling with their domestic issues.

This year, around Thanksgiving, following the footsteps of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, another school district in Jennings, Missouri has also built a home for the homeless named “ Hope House” which, as the names suggests, is specified for girls.

Joe’s Place and Hope House aim at providing these homeless children with a healthy homelike atmosphere to grow in; a place where they won’t have to be worried if they’ll be able to get another meal or not. Their aim is to provide comfort, love and security to these children so that they can focus on their studies and enjoy life as they should.

It has been observed that the grades and efficiency of the students improved after they moved into Joe’s Place and these students are expected to graduate high school without any problem.

Joe’s place and Hope House are the proof that there are people in the world who know what it means to be a human. This is just the beginning. With time, other school districts might also start some projects like the Joe’s Place or the Hope House. Youth is the backbone of any nation and this backbone deserves proper care if we want our nation to stand erect among the other nations of the world.