This town built a homeless shelter. For school kids.

The numbers are staggering: The number of homeless kids in public schools reached 1.36 million in 2013-14.

That's 3% of the school population across the country.

The number of kids who experience food shortages at home is even more dramatic: 16 million kids under the age of 18 in 2013.



Kids like these do not have much of a chance of making it. School becomes challenging, life even more so.

And often this continues throughout their entire adult lives.

It becomes a cycle when they have their own children: Low educational opportunities and attainment means that as adults, economic opportunities are even rarer and folks can't get jobs that help them reach the middle class. Then, when they have kids, they can't help them reach higher levels of education. And the cycle continues.

"The Door" — the Fairbanks Youth Advocates youth shelter. Image from its website.

In Alaska, Fairbanks Youth Advocates started out as a counseling service for these kids, but the emergency homeless shelter for kids kinda took over (though they still offer counseling). After all, when kids are in crisis, counseling and classroom work isn't exactly a high priority for them.

The shelter offers these kids a chance at making it.

When they have a place to sleep, nutritious food, and a support network, they can flourish.

Marylee Bates, director of the program, rather stumbled onto this project. She saw the problem when she was a teacher, and she kept hearing from others about the need for an emergency shelter for these kids.

“Five or six years ago, I didn't see this coming down my turnpike. I was actually happily teaching in my classroom, thinking that is where I'd stay. It just really seemed like it needed to happen, and it wasn't happening soon enough." — Marylee Bates

Those who work there, volunteer, and donate to keep the shelter going are heroes, and we need more of them.

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