Several months ago I decided I wanted to donate a portion of my income to support a charity. The problem was I did not know what charity to support. There are a million different causes out there and each is in need of help. Would I support the environment, a health-based charity, people in Africa without water, the victims of the earthquake in Haiti?
Now this may sound odd but I literally decided to pose the question 'What charity should I support?' to the ocean. I happen to live on the beach in Orange County California so I walked down to the sand and just asked the question.
Over the next several days, everywhere I went I kept seeing and hearing about the epidemic of child homelessness here in America. I saw a sign on a bus. I read an article on online. I saw a blurb about it on a news cast. Everywhere I turned I kept seeing it.
I took that as a sign and start doing some research. What I discovered was astonishing.
First I started locally. I found out that right here in Orange County... one the THE wealthiest counties in the country... we have over 22,000 homeless kids. Yes, over 22,000 children without a safe place to call home. Many of them on the streets within walking distance of Disneyland.
Then I looked at the national stats and was blown away to find out that one in 50 kids in the United States of America is homeless. Yes one out of fifty. That is over 1.6 MILLION children.
Here are some more sobering numbers:
- Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets report that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care.
- One IN four homeless youth come from the foster care system
- 33% of heterosexual homeless youth have been sexually abused
- Less than one in four homeless children will graduate from high school
- Every day 12 kids die on the streets of America
I asked myself a question that shook me to the core. The question was WHY?
Why are there more than 1,600,000 homeless youth right here in our own backyard?
As I continued to study the issue I have found there are basically two camps out there. The main camp are the people, myself included at first, who simply have NO CLUE that this is such a huge problem. Most people I talk to have no idea that this is such a major epidemic.
The second camp is the people who feel the statistics are made up. There are a lot of people who don't want to believe this could be happening on the streets of our country. Sure there are homeless kids in Africa, India, Pakistan and a host of other third world countries, but not here!
Well wake up because it is happening right now as you read these words. And as the state of the economy continues to decline the problem will most likely get only worse.
Now I am all for helping children all around the world BUT how can we turn a blind eye to our own children in grave need?
I personally decided to do something about it. I started a foundation called Generation Why? whose goal is to both raise awareness around this hidden reality and to create real solutions for homeless youth.
I decided the best way to elevate awareness was to create a documentary film. I teamed up with a few people also committed to the cause and a local documentary film company, Change For Balance Productions, and together we are creating a full length documentary titled Generation Why?
Please take 2.5 minutes to watch our preview trailer:
We can no longer allow this epidemic to continue. The future of our great country is in the hands of our children. How can we comfortably sleep at night when so many of our children are alone, scared and living homeless on the streets?
For more info go to GenWhyMovie.com
Rich German is an author, speaker, business & life coach. He is also the creator of the film Generation Why? His website is www.richgerman.com