When I first got involved with Sox Place almost 10 years ago, our kids were primarily of one sub-culture, the gutter punk. They were anti-government, anti- law, anti-cop, anti-authority, and anti-pretty much everything that got in their way of drinking, fighting, and having “fun.” We still have some of those kids, but now, the kids that come to Sox Place are so diverse that we see many different attitudes and mindsets. They are from different backgrounds and ethnicity.
One major change that I have seen that is positive is that our kids don’t really consider it cool to be living on the streets anymore. In previous years, you got most of your streets status by how long you had been homeless. Now many of our kids want desperately to break the cycle of homelessness, joblessness, and the street lifestyle they are living.
This can be quite a daunting task for many of our youth. So many of them have never been taught the basic life skills that you and I can take for granted. No one was around to teach them how to get up and be on time, how to accept direction and correction from authority, how to look presentable for a job interview, and how to manage the little money they get. Even basic personal hygiene that we were taught as children is foreign to them. It’s easy to write many of these things off as common sense, but when the example your parents give you is violence, welfare abuse, food stamps, taking advantage of the government disability program, and drug and alcohol abuse, common sense becomes not so common for them.
Many of our kids are realizing this is no way to live, and that is very encouraging for me. Therefore, we are adapting our services to include the “Streets2Stability” program. This program is where we teach these basic lessons through a three month internship. We are also helping in the job hunting process, giving bus fare and clothes that are appropriate for interviews.
One of the critical ways you can help these kids who are trying very hard to get off the streets is to let us know if you have any job leads; that would be invaluable. No matter what kind of work it is, we can try and fit one of our youths for the job. We also have a 5280 program where you can commit to donating $52.80 a month to help pay for more “Streets2Stability” participants and other services. Sometimes it only takes one person willing to take a risk for these kids for them to rise to the occasion, and break the cycle.
These are exciting times here at Sox Place and hold a lot of hope for our kids, as it is now they who want to make a change, not everyone around them wanting to change them.