It’s a stormy and cool Wednesday summer evening in Keene, New Hampshire. A teen is scared, cold and alone. Sadly, this night is not terribly different from the 365 that have preceded it. Outside of a vacant building that she hoped to call home for the night there are flashing lights from a patrol car. On edge, the young girl knows what’s to follow. Where will she go at 1:30 a.m. when officers ask that she collect her belongings and move on?
Mell recently turned 19 years of age. There were no balloons, cake, presents or even well-wishes. She celebrated this birthday homeless. She grew up in group homes, with foster parents and after aging out of the system was dropped off on a street corner with a bicycle and a backpack. And, while suffering many abuses in foster-care, the street has been far more cruel than words can provide.
I became acquainted with Mell after a friend tagged me in a post that was written on Facebook about a youth who was experiencing homelessness. Mell wrote that she was feeling hopeless and lost. After reading the post I felt compelled to reach out. We’ve shared many conversations over the last couple of weeks. Mell recounted stories of survival sex, going to sleep hungry and feeling like the world had turned its back on her — I feel helpless and can only listen while trying to provide some measure of compassion, understanding and reassurance from 2500 miles away.
I recently asked Mell what dreams she might hold if given a hand-out of this living hell. Said the 19-year-old, “More than anything, I just want to be myself again. I would like to be that artsy girl who sings and plays the guitar. You lose these thing when you’re constantly in survival mode. My goal would be to finish high school and then go onto college. I dream of a small apartment with a bed and warm shower. I would someday love to advocate for those like me, the ones who don’t have a voice.”
Let’s work together and give Mell this dream. Our children are the collective future and this nation’s youth should not be subjected to the horrors of the street. This country needs to end youth homelessness — we can start with Mell!
Contribute what you can and please share Mell’s story. You’re heart and that of a 19- year-old girls will thank you! GoFundMe, https://www.gofundme.com/helpmell