Raising Awareness for Youth Homeless Awareness Week

December 8, 2020

There have been 27 students in our district who have experienced homelessness this year alone.

Social services coordinator Jill Platts organized for the high school to participate in Youth Homeless Awareness Week.

“[Nov. 16-20] was Homeless Awareness Week, where students, staff and families can assist others all year long by donating to nonprofits and organizations that support these families through food, financial assistance, clothing and other needed resources,” said Platts.

Students and staff could help the cause by wearing red masks that said #IWILLBEYOURVOICE, as well as donating change to a new youth shelter.

This is Cornerstone Youth Home at 484-486 West Market St. in York City. Photograph Courtesy of Dawn J. Sagert via the York Dispatch

In addition, small blue houses were placed in each main office that support the new youth homeless shelter in York called Cornerstone Youth Home.

Region three coordinator for youths experiencing homelessness, Sonia Pitzi, agrees that getting involved is the best way to help.

“Anytime awareness can be brought about students experiencing homelessness, it is a good thing,” said Pitzi. “Conversations can be sparked, questions will arise and information is put out there with statistics, stories and ways to help.”

All year long, people who donate to nonprofits support families in need with food, clothing and other needed resources.

“We have numerous food pantries in our community that support those facing food insecurity that would appreciate donations, as well as the homeless shelters in York County,” said Platts.

There is a resource sheet with some of these organizations listed on our district website under “DISTRICT/RESOURCES/Social Services.”

“Many nonprofits have seen a decrease in donations this year due to COVID-19, as they haven’t been able to hold their in-person fundraisers,” said Platts.

Connectivity is also an issue since students are not in school five days a week.

“This year has made [communication and the ability to connect] a bit more challenging due to our schedules and virtual environment,” said Platts.

However, she wants to let students know that they are not alone when facing homelessness.

“We are here for them when they are facing difficult times such as a displacement from their home,” said Platts.

Although many people still believe that this is not an issue in our area, youth homelessness is an increasing problem.

According to a report by the National Center for Homeless Education, the number of homeless public school students in Pennsylvania increased by more than 30 percent since 2018.

National Homelessness Awareness Week is an annual program that brings people together to raise awareness for homelessness. Image by America’s Charities

“It is important to understand that you may be sitting next to a peer whose family is struggling to keep their housing or have food security,” said Platts. “Sometimes we are quick to judge others, instead we need to show empathy and understanding, and think about what we as individuals can do to support others in our community…”

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