This town built a homeless shelter. For school kids.
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WNET

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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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

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It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

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