The Relatives’ Family Update – January 2019
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2019 marks the 45th year of The Relatives!
We started with a home, and we’ve become a family. Over time, we’ve grown from the youth shelter on East Blvd. to a robust program that offers housing, employment, and education assistance.
The Relatives Gives Second Chances
At age 14, Unique found himself living on the streets after his family was evicted from their home. Needing to feed himself and his family and without any form of income or a steady support system, he began to steal cars. Unique felt it was his only option for cash for his family. That act of survival eventually landed him in prison.
Unique is one of the 4.2 million young people between the ages of 13 and 25, who find themselves homeless during the course of a year according to a 2017 study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The study is, to date, the most comprehensive look at youth homelessness in the nation.
“You still end up in prison even if you’re doing it for the right cause,” he said. His time in prison would begin a cycle that seemed impossible to break.
Youth Today will be featuring The Relatives along with similar organizations throughout North Carolina, New York, and Washington to shed light on the epidemic of homeless youth and adults. This article, features the desperate struggle between income, safety, and jail that is mimicked throughout the United States in a series spotlighting the crisis of incarcerated youth.
Through programs at The Relatives and similar organizations throughout the country, homeless and transitioning youth are able to find the support they need to get back on track. The youth who access our services need help and are unsure of where to start. Some have criminal records for minor infractions – making it difficult to find employment. However at the Relatives we are able to bridge the gap by providing youth with access to education, housing, and health services to put them in a stable work and home environment.
“I felt nobody was there to help us,” said Glover, 21. “They’d throw us back in the street. We have no house, no clothes, no food, no money and now we have a record. Their plan is for us to go back out there, do more crime so they can bring us back in and they get paid.”
It wasn’t until he moved to Charlotte and became involved with The Relatives that Unique was able to have a positive outlook for the future.
“The Relatives has helped a lot. They talk to us. They give us mentors.”
The Relatives gives second chances. Last year, Alston & Bird worked with our young adults who had minor infractions on their criminal records to get them removed. As minor as these infractions may be, they can be a huge barrier when it comes to finding employment or housing. Our transition specialists also ensure that they are getting access to the proper resources during this time, and giving them support along the way – going to court with them, or sitting in on meetings with lawyers.
Unfortunately, Unique is only one of many Charlotte youth struggling with housing and employment. Unique is the reason we continue to provide support for the youth of Charlotte. It is why We Are The Relatives.
Follow along with the Youth Today series by visiting their webpage for future articles in this series that address one of our nation’s toughest, and most hidden, challenges – homeless youth.
A Reason to Celebrate
We are beyond grateful for everyone who supported us during this past season!
Unfortunately, not all youth and young adults in our community have a home for the holidays. Your dedication to making sure our kids could have something to celebrate was above and beyond this year. We appreciate every donation, meal, and volunteer hours you’ve graciously given us and look forward to providing even more with your help in the future.
Meet The Relatives!
As we continue to grow, it’s a great opportunity to learn all of the ways you can make an impact on youth crisis.
We invite you to view our upcoming dates and to register here.
Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend, April 24-27, brings together leading wine makers and chefs while making considerable contributions to charitable organization in the Charlotte community – and we’re one of them!
Tickets go on sale in February, so don’t forget to get yours before they’re gone. Click here to learn more about upcoming events.
Save the Date! – Robert’s Walk
This recognized week honors Safe Place, an outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. NSP Week serves to recognize the many valued partners who work together to provide immediate help and safety for all young people.
One way we celebrate is through our Robert’s Walk Celebration. This special event on March 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. highlights a young man who made the journey from feeling abandoned and lost in Freedom Park to feeling overwhelmed with love and support at our Crisis Center, all because he saw the Safe Place sign. Details and volunteer opportunities will be announced in the coming weeks!