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I was homeless as a teen, and there are some ridiculous people out there who would try to take advantage of your vulnerability, or treat you as if your situation was because you're just a bum, not someone who left an abusive situation.

I remember I had an employer when I was homeless who was absolutely disgusting. He lied about wages. Then he would threaten me if I wanted a day off, or had an emergency like a funeral to attend. He told me he didn't care if I had school, or a funeral to attend- I was to be at work- for $4/per hour.

It's amazing how this asshole felt he was helping me. Even scarier is no one was protecting me, or just shutting this man down for shady business practices.

Unfortunately, like a lot of their media-induced impressions of the homeless, people still have a picture in their minds of a Dickensian-like waif (think Oliver Twist!) when it comes to homeless children. They also assume that that there are automatically services in place to assist the children with their basic needs, but it's not always the case.

I'll give you an example: the other day, I helped out at the shelter warehouse with a bunch of shoes that had been donated for children by a local company. There were lots of shoes - for the boys. There were girls' shoes, but it was just a fraction compared to what was donated for the boys (I guess boys' shoes were the majority of the leftover inventory.) My point is, while it was a very generous donation, it was rather hit-or-miss availability-wise when we went to claim the shoes for the clients in our shelter and the other shelters we were helping out with the donation.

The real shame is when people donate money to the homeless for the sole purpose of getting reductions in their income taxes without any consideration of where the money goes (your point not about not directing donations not withstanding.) As you said, these kids need more than just money, they need time and caring adults outside of their families. In some of the more dysfunctional families in which poor to marginal parenting takes place, these adults from the "outside" who are generous with their time are giving an extra gift: a good adult example.

Hi Dave,

Your point about "a good adult example" is exactly right. Thank you for stating it so succinctly. Shelters run on donations and I am always grateful for the generosity of the community in which I live. But children need nurturing and functional examples. Thank you for reiterating this.


That truly is scary, but unfortunately I know it happens. I think homeless teens and children are the most vulnerable in our society. Yet so little is done to actually help them. I am fortunate to live in a community which has a very large and active program designed especially for homeless teens. Most communities do not and that is very sad. From what I have seen most teens are homeless in an attempt to escape a very bad home situation, whether they are being pawned off to their parents' drug dealers for sexual favors in exchange for drugs, molested by a family member or abused, no one leaves home at such a young age without a very good reason.

I hope you have found a home and are safe now. If there is any information you would like to get out to the public about homeless teens, please let me know. I would be happy to post it in this forum.

Lee - I was nearly homeless and ended up working for an employer like that. Yes, he helped me. I only had proper shoes for work because there was a pair in the back room I was allowed to use. The guy gave me "pep talks" etc but he also didn't pay the extra pay for overtime, pay was in the toilet, and hours were long and the work HARD. I eventually left and moved on with my life. I went back there in 03, that big bully's a little, almost wizened man now, it's amazing. I was scared of the guy way back when, now I dunno what happened to him, liver trouble or just plain the effects of years of overwork and meanness, but he's a sad specimen now. And I'm gonna come out and say it: My heart gave a little leap of joy, after the initial shock, to see this. I also feel kinda bad about this but dammit, the guy's made his bed and how he's lying in it, good for him. I also noticed he has a "slow" (retarded) fellow there now, doing the work I used to do, scared and at a constant run.

The world is full of bullies.

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