Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homeless In Suburbia

It's time.  Organizing, researching and struggling with a steep learning curve all the while tempting blindness from looking at a computer screen have taken up most (all) of my time in the last couple of months.  A new company business plan along with a fairly unique idea demands this. There's just so much to do in order to achieve long term success thereby creating a type of annuity for those serving homeless youth.
Of course, it's  difficult to design a new concept and immediately get everything right. Some flexibility is required and adjustments must be made. These upcoming changes will be discussed in a later posting.

It's time for what then? Human interaction to be precise. On April 30, I attended a seminar and exhibitor fair sponsored by the City of Bloomington, MN and the League of Women Voters entitled Homeless in Suburbia

An organization called Oasis for Youth began serving the at-risk youth population in this city recently. They were not the only providers in attendance, however.  Designed to promote inter-agency cooperation as well as to inform the public about available services, this was a great place to meet people that are involved in helping to solve the issue of homeless youth. Please check "Links" under the "Pages" section for a complete list of all attendees.

On any given night, 2,500 Minnesota
Youth experience homelessness!
 After an opening statement by Mayor Gene Winstead, the presentation was moderated by Tim Reardon, CEO of the Reardon Group, beginning with a series of questions to be answered by the audience.  The "quiz" was used in order to measure our existing beliefs against our knowledge base after the panel discussions. Yes, I know more now.  But after absorbing the statistics presented, one might experience some depression rather than a sense of expertise.

Youth homelessness has its preconceived visualizations as does homelessness in general.  We picture kids sleeping in warehouse doorways surrounded by trash.  We picture kids dumpster diving.  We picture kids dirty, disheveled and wearing the most demeaning of rags.  These impressions are not totally off the mark, but there is much more to this story. 

Thousands of homeless teens interact with us every day and we have NO idea.  They're found behind the counters of retail stores and fast food restaurants. They work diligently to make certain that we remain ignorant of their plight.  These kids become the invisible homeless.  A great number of the "invisibles" come from the outer rings of our cities in very suburban, middle class areas where they are accustomed to many of todays advantages. Seeing no choice but to leave home due to a variety of reasons, (violence, abuse and more) they are totally unprepared for the life that faces them.

Desperately needing services, (transportation, shelter, food), suburban youth find that it may be necessary to relocate to the inner city.  Alone, frightened, distrustful and unarmed, they find themselves in dangerous situations.  Within 48 hours, many are forced to do unspeakable things in order to survive.

Thankfully, I met some amazingly wonderful people.  They work in social agencies.  They volunteer at the nonprofits. They are employed in the school systems.  They are dedicated advocates. And they care.  During the Q&A portion of the event, there were times when panel members were overcome for a moment as they tried to explain the pain and frustrations experienced by children looking for, well - normalcy. And in those moments, it was strikingly evident that the pain and frustrations also belong to those living with the challenges of trying to help.

Responsible Referrals wants to make life easier for homeless children and for those who serve them.  It's our mission and we need your help.  If someone you know is looking to buy or sell real estate, we'd be honored to help them find their Realtor.  Remember please that 50% of our fee will be used to help those tireless advocates as they work to help those who are just plain tired.

NEXT POST:  Mother's Day, Nurses Week and .... Housing?


  1. We all need to spend our time on Earth helping others - when you can make it your work, you are in an amazing position!
    What a great concept, motivated by a pure heart - a winning combination.
    I want to move NOW to help!!!

  2. You don't have to move - yet! You've been a great advocate for this concept and it's most appreciated!