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Runaway programs have seen major increases in homeless youth. These youth, who live "on the street", are in very high risk situations, with few resources and virtually no support system. As a response to this phenomenon, the Wisconsin Association for Runaway Services, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Board for National and Community Service, provides a team of AmeriCorps members to provide street outreach services and mobile response teams for referrals from police departments, schools, and other youth serving agencies. The AmeriCorps members are available to youth who are homeless, runaways, or in crisis and are therefore "on the street". Members frequent areas in the community where youth congregate, such as parks, malls, convenience stores, etc. Youth are provided with hygiene packets, food vouchers, transportation vouchers, clothes, educational materials, and, most importantly, referral services to provide them with safe alternatives to the street. The members also are available to police and school personnel, by responding directly to referrals. Americorps members provide services throughout Wisconsin; ensuring runaway, homeless, and youth in crisis have a strong support system and alternatives to the street.


GOALS OF PROJECT

Video courtesy Project 16:49 / Rock County

Community Service

Strengthen Communities

Personal Growth of AmeriCorps Members

What does serving your AmeriCorps term with WAHRS look like? The Basics...

Video courtesy Project 16:49 / Rock County

Reflection by AmeriCorps Members

Where?

by: Angela Endejan

Mom and I are fighting again,
Where did I go wrong?
She's starting her next bottle of gin,
Where did I go wrong?
I just found out I am pregnant,
Where did I go wrong?
My bags are on the sidewalk,
Where did I go wrong?

A car, a park bench, a cardboard box,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I heard we are expecting snow,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I don't know how long this couch can be my bed,
Where will I sleep tonight?
My bags are all tattered and torn,
Where will I sleep tonight?

I heard that this place can help me,
Where do I begin?
They have given me a place to stay,
Where do I begin?
I need to finish my GED and get a job
Where do I begin?
My bags have a place to call home
Where do I begin?

I sign my lease next week,
Where has the time gone?
My baby gets bigger every day,
Where has the time gone?
I graduated and have a full-time job,
Where has the time gone?
My bags are no longer needed,
Where has the time gone?

About two years ago, all I wanted to know,
Where did I go wrong?
Every night I worried,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I started a new adventure wondering,
Where do I begin?
And now I sit here writing this asking,
Where has the time gone?

Without all these questions,
I could have never found the answers.

Thank you.

 

The author is a full-time AmeriCorps member at the Youth and Family Project in West Bend, WI who works with the Transitional Housing and Street Outreach programs. She hopes to receive both her professional counseling and alcohol and drug counseling licenses and continue to work with youth in Wisconsin.

 

An Outreach Tanka

by: Jenna Van Der Sande

walking all the streets
searching, looking to reach out
youth who need our help
helping our community
brings families together

A Sonnet: The Young One

by: Jenna Van Der Sande

Young one,
Insightful on the inside
Tough exterior to some
And to me she can confide

Dances like no one cares
And speaks from her heart
On paper does she dare
Declare what sets her apart

Such knowing views
For such a young girl
Wonder who or what is her muse
And what else from her can unfurl

What a wonderful youth to know
Cannot wait to see what path she'll follow

 

My name is Jenna Van Der Sande and I'm an Americorp for Project Youth, part of Lutheran Social Services. My area of service is in Sheboygan County and I am a first year Americorps. I really enjoy working the youth and families in my area, this experience has opened my eyes and I appreciate the opportunity to serve my community. My pieces are about what our goal as an outreach team and about a youth that we service through our drop-in program that I admire.

Easier Than Not

By Erin Roemer

It's easier than not
to forget what we do
is of vast importance
to more than a few

The youth we serve
the steps we take
the compassion we give
did enough progress we make

At the end of a hard day
we question our work
Did I make a difference?
Did I erase any hurt?

Sometimes a smile
A story she confides
An inquisitive "Where were you?"
She won't let it slide

Reminds me I'm needed
On me she depends
for a listening ear, a role model
a mentor or friend

I serve to amend
one life at a time
so she may have one
more like yours and mine

It's easier than not
to stand in the distance
but service is our calling
our duty to make a difference

 

Author Biography: Erin Roemer is an MSW Graduate Student who resides in Brookfield, WI. Under the direction of the Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services, she serves as a Street Outreach Program worker at the Youth and Family Project, Inc. in West Bend.

WAHRS • Joli Guenther • joli@guenthershome.com • 608-239-5430

Mail to:   PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901

WAHRS • Joli Guenther
joli@guenthershome.com
608-239-5430

Mail to:   WAHRS / PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901