November is National Homeless & Runaway Prevention Month and Santa Clara County is not immune to the reality of this issue. More than 1,200 youth are forced to live on our streets due to a variety of causes, most of which were far beyond their control. In addition, thousands more have no stable place to call home, instead relying on couch-surfing or bouncing from one temporary shelter to another.
Last year, more than 800 youth (ages 13-25) received services at the drop-in center operated by Bill Wilson Center in downtown San Jose. It is the only program of its kind in Santa Clara County, and it provides displaced youth basic necessities, food, clothing, showers, counseling, employment training and housing referrals.
You can make a difference this month by taking an active role at a pair of events in the South Bay.
Bill Wilson Center will hold a walk and rally to raise awareness about the plight of our youth living on the streets every night in Silicon Valley. The 2nd Annual Green Light Project Walk and Rally begins at 5:30pm Friday.
This one-mile walk begins at San Jose's City Hall and ends at BWC's drop-in center. Last year, nearly 200 people of all ages and walks of life made the trek through downtown San Jose, raising awareness that on any given night more than 1,200 youth were forced to survive on the streets of Santa Clara County. This is a free walk and everyone is welcome.
Another opportunity to gain insight about life as a homeless youth takes place Friday, Nov. 14. BWC will present an exciting new documentary, The Homestretch, which breaks down the stereotypes around homelessness and connects the many issues that contribute to homelessness. Filmed in Chicago, the documentary highlights the plight of the 1.6 million youth in America that struggle with homelessness. The Homestretch follows three homeless teenagers in Chicago as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. These smart, ambitious teens surprise and defy stereotypes as they work to complete their education and create new definitions of home.
The story continues beyond high school, focusing on the crucial transition after graduation, when the structure of school vanishes and many homeless youth struggle to find the support and community they need to survive. The documentary brings a powerful perspective on what it means to be young and homeless while trying to build a future in today’s America.
The screening takes place at 7:30pm, Nov. 14, at Blue Light Cinemas in Cupertino. Tickets are $10 (plus an online processing fee of $1.54) with all proceeds benefitting BWC. Reserve your tickets today at our Eventbrite page, and for additional information contact Pam Fitzgerald at 408.850.6129 or [email protected]
When a youth becomes homeless, the impact is felt throughout the region. We need to work together to identify these youth and provide them the resources to develop life skills that can make a positive difference in their lives. One homeless youth is one too many.