Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

To Help Requires Us to See Them

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

To Help Requires Us to See Them

Article excerpt

Fear. Abandonment. Rejection. Loneliness. Every teen feels that way sometimes, right? Unfortunately, in the St. Louis area tonight, about 2,500 teenagers will experience real fear: a kind of life-or- death fear. Some will feel abandoned, because they were. Others will feel rejected, because they aren't welcome at home. And, they will feel a kind of heartbreaking loneliness that haunts the soul our souls.

While most St. Louis teens are planning their next party and contemplating their futures, homeless teens just want to make it through today alive. Where will they sleep tonight? Will they eat? Will they get robbed or assaulted on the streets? Will they get a shower before they have to catch the bus for school or work tomorrow?

If you're reading this, chances are you have never slept on the street. And we suspect you have no idea that every single night too many of our youth will sleep in an abandoned home, at a bus stop, under a bridge or on a friend's couch. Each child has a story. It is often not what you would expect. Perhaps they come from an affluent home far from the city center. Perhaps their parents are mentally ill, abusive or drug addicted, so they fled to live with their grandmother, and she died leaving them no place to go. But in each case, to help requires us to see them as they are. To understand them. To build trust with them. To show them there is hope.

That's why we will join leaders throughout the country and sleep outside in solidarity of homeless and disconnected youth during Covenant House Missouri's fourth annual Sleep Out: Executive Edition.

Recently we attended a Cardinals baseball game with some kids from Covenant House Missouri. On the surface, they are like many other teenagers we know. Funny. Polite. Filled with dreams. One young man was reminiscing about the last game he attended eight years ago, before his father left home and never returned. …

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