Last year while visiting Chicago I met a young man who was 19 years-old at the time. Jermire had been homeless since the age of 13, but thanks to the support from La Casa Norte, Jermire was soon to graduate from high school. You can watch Jermire's powerful story here.
I started this visit to La Casa Notre at their transitional housing program called Solid Ground. After a brief introduction with staff, they opened the door and allowed me to hang in the kitchen with all the young men. Little did I know, that later in the evening, I would also be allowed to freely hang out in their youth emergency shelter. Both experiences I will never forget.
If you've never spent time in a youth shelter it's really not what you'd expect. The feeling is more like a very large extended family. If you didn't know it was a homeless shelter you'd never know these kids are homeless.
While visiting with La Case Norte, Barbara Poppe, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, tweet to me that La Casa Norte was recognized by the White House for being a Champion of Change.
@hardlynormal @LaCasaNorte is another 2012 @USICHgov @WhiteHouse champion of change...you get to hang out w best folks on this trip!
-- Barbara J Poppe (@bjpoppe) September 13, 2013
I haven't talk about it much, but on this road trip I have seen more homelessness than I have in years past. That said, I was happy to learn the City of Chicago is proactive in funding youth emergency shelters throughout the area.
In this video Shawn Melissa Decker, program coordinator for La Casa Norte's Solid Ground program, talks about youth homelessness in Chicago, and more specifically the need for transitional programs.
Very special thanks to La Casa Norte
This Invisible People road trip is made possible by Sevenly and Virgin Mobile USA, who are partnering to end youth homelessness through Virgin Mobile USA's initiative, RE*Generation. For more information please click here.