- What do you see as one or two of the greatest challenges to helping the homeless and the hungry in North Texas?
Meeting the immense needs of the local homeless youth population using limited resources can be a great challenge. According to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, more than 1,264 Dallas County youth experience homelessness on any given night. Only 30 emergency shelter beds in Dallas County are available to community youth who are not under the state’s care, and they are all located in the Emergency Youth Shelter at Promise House.
Promise House currently works with six area high schools to combat the issues of hunger and homelessness by staffing drop-in centers where homeless children enrolled in the high school can receive crisis intervention, food and hygiene supplies.
This service is key to supporting youth. Expansion to more high schools would be helpful in our community, however accruing the necessary resources for success can be challenging. The Dallas Morning News Charities campaign is instrumental in helping agencies like Promise House provide the homeless and the hungry with food, clothing and other basic essentials.
- How would you describe your mission, and how are you specifically helping the homeless and the hungry?
Promise House moves abused, abandoned and neglected youth toward safety and success. The organization offers no-cost emergency shelter, transitional housing, pregnant and parenting teen support, outreach services, counseling, life skills training and education assistance to homeless and runaway youth ages 0 to 24. Our comprehensive programs connect at-risk youth with the resources and support they need to become healthy, self-sufficient adults.
- Can you give us an example of a person (named or unnamed) who has benefited from your services? How have they benefited? If it’s appropriate, tell us a short story.
Justin* could never picture himself earning a high school diploma. At age 17, his parents found out about his sexual orientation and kicked him out of the house. Forced to drop out of school, Justin moved from couch to couch before enrolling in the Transitional Living Program at Promise House.
This summer, Justin finished his coursework and graduated with his GED. He plans to begin college next year, where he will study interactive simulation design.
“The people at Promise House are so supportive,” Justin said. “I have always had trouble staying focused on achieving what I want, but the great people at Promise House taught me that I can do things if I push myself hard enough. Everyone just needs support, and that’s what Promise House did for me. They make me happy every time I see them.”
*Note: Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our client.
- Is there anything new that you are focused on for the coming year? Any new initiatives?
Because our residential programs face increased demand from both community youth and minors in state custody, Promise House has expanded the Emergency Youth Shelter’s capacity to provide temporary housing to more children and teens with nowhere else to turn.
We recently re-repurposed existing rooms on our campus to house 10 new Emergency Youth Shelter beds and began serving 30 shelter clients at a time in November 2015. In 2016, we will focus on providing all of our youth with basic necessities, educational opportunities, mental and physical health care, and placement in safe, loving homes.
This year will mark a an exciting opportunity to renew our strategic plan. Assessing the community demand and creating residential expansion and service enhancements will continue to place Promise House in a responsive mode ensuring that community needs are addressed as the client landscape is continually changing.
- What else should North Texas residents know about your work?
We would like North Texas residents to know about the many ways to support Promise House youth through volunteering. Our agency could not function without the support of our more than 1,200 annual volunteers.
Individually, they act as much-needed positive role models and mentors, and they help with everything from coordinating recreational activities to leading life skills training for our youth. Group volunteers host special events – from holiday parties to community field trips – and also provide invaluable assistance during our fundraising events. For more information, please visit http://promisehouse.org/how-to-help/volunteer/.