There Is No One True Face Of Youth Homelessness…

There is no One True Face of Youth Homelessness…

Michael was adopted internationally at age three along with his sister. Once in the United States, there was a clear divide between the attention his sister received and what he received from his family. Michael was severely abused by his mother and given age-inappropriate house chores, while his sister was spoiled and well cared for. As a preteen, Michael was sent from New York to a religious boarding school here in Missouri, while his sister remained in the home. When he turned 18, he asked his parents if he could come home to New York. Not only was he told “no, he could not come home”, he was given the option of receiving family assistance at an even greater distance of Arizona. Michael ended up angry and homeless, feeling rejected by a family that chose him and then abandoned him.   Finding Rare Breed Michael came to Rare Breed in 2013. He was 18 and had no vital records, no proof that he was a United States citizen, and no home. Adoption records and documents that should be submitted before a child turns 18 were not completed by his parents, and there was little hope that he could prove his citizenship on his own. On multiple occasions during Michael’s time with Rare Breed, Staff had to discourage him from job-seeking out of concern that he may be deported. He could not sign a lease if he could not prove his own identity. This young man needed help. He faced an uphill battle with substance abuse, trauma-based anger, and lack of family or community supports; but at Rare Breed, he found help. Motivated to use available services, he diligently worked to accomplish so much in the time he has been with us. In the last seven years, he has completed substance…

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Life As A Case Manager

Life as a Case Manager

Working as a case manager for Rare Breed is rewarding but not always easy.  When we first meet the youth, they are overwhelmed and scared by the circumstances of their lives. Most have been repeatedly told they are worthless and will never amount to anything until they believe the words others have said.  When we meet these youth, they may have mental and physical illnesses related to the repeated trauma they endure.  Medical help is not a priority for our youth, surviving the day is. Some may self-medicate with anything they believe will help them through that painful moment. Our hardest job is to break through the lack of trust life has instilled in our youth. We do that by listening when they talk. We also pay attention to what they say without words. When youth tell us their stories, we do not condemn, chastise, or ridicule anything that has happened to them. That is part of trauma-informed-care that helps our youth begin to heal. We Bring Support and Hope As our youth laugh with us, cry with us, and everything in between, they start to trust again.  Once that barrier breaks, we can provide case management they want and need. When we first meet with a youth, we provide resources such as food, clothing, hygiene care, birth certificates, Ids, and Social Security cards.  After an initial meeting, we provide case management by supporting the youth as they start to have hopes and dreams about what tomorrow might bring. Case managers take those fragile dreams and help the youth make plans for how they will turn them into reality.  Those plans always start with big, excited, energetic steps like “I’m getting a job, a car, a house, then I’ll be a millionaire.” We help the youth break down those initial…

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Rare Breed Youth Services Success!

Rare Breed Youth Services Success!

When I first came to Rare Breed, I tagged along with a friend who was dating a Rare Breed youth. I did not need Rare Breed services, but I quickly found friends, and became a “Breed Kid” myself. My dad would drop me off at Rare Breed and pick me up on his way home from work. Being a rural kid, I did not have much to do during the day, so many of my friendships were from here. I went to every “Life Skills” class and involved myself in every group. Face painting at Neighborhood Night Out, and back-to-school events that Rare Breed took part in, I was there. During those years, the Rare Breed staff were always there for me, helping me learn how to ask for help, how to help others without hurting myself, and how to give back to other youth through peer support. My Husband, Colton Hughes Colton needed the "Breed" more than I did. During that time, he was housed through The Kitchen, Inc.’s Transitional Living program. There, Colton was given access to Anger Management and Harm Reduction classes, as well as Narcotics Anonymous. He says that he learned his street etiquette from his peers. He states, “It doesn’t matter if you know how to be safe if you overdose alone…it takes a tribe to stay safe.” Even now, some friends are doing well, but some are gone. They always told us the statistics of who would make it out. Colton has now been 6 years sober. Colton and I work well as a couple! We sat through many relationship groups with other broken kids trying to figure out how to make life work. Both of us quote helpful information from Rare Breed to each other, creating accountability between us because we were both…

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Happy Birthday Rare Breed

Happy Birthday Rare Breed

By Kathy Westmoreland - Youth Services Coordinator It is strange to sit in Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center during COVID 19 guidelines as the building is never this quiet. Youth are still coming in and receiving services, but our buzz is a little bit quieter these days. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on all the shifts, challenges, and wins that this program has seen over the course of twenty years. Countless youth have walked through our doors seeking assistance and they have all brought their own story. The one thing that I can say I have learned in my time here is that there is no one true face of youth homelessness, no one story that brings them here, but support can make all of the difference in their outcome. Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center has been blessed over the last twenty years with incredible support from our community, donors, and volunteers. From hot meals to art classes, the volume of care and compassion provided to our youth by the local community could never be measured, but the outcomes have been incredible. We could not do the work that we do without your help. Thank you. The Meaning Behind “Rare Breed’ I have been told that, when Rare Breed began, the youth chose the name because they are exactly that: a Rare Breed of individuals. They are often misunderstood, but so eager to define themselves and overcome old labels. Give them a few moments, and they will tell you exactly who they are. They have an incredible ability to speak their story from a place of compassion and understanding. For twenty years now, Rare Breed Staff have been offering these youth assistance in any way possible, even if all we do is sit and listen. Alumni…

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