Youth Stories

Stereotypical notions of runaway and homeless youth do our communities a tremendous disservice. It is simply wrong to assume that runaway youth are defiant young people who won’t obey parental authority.

The truth is that young people leave home for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they leave because of a pattern of ongoing disagreements with parents. Sometimes a youth finally makes the decision to leave home after a lifetime of abuse. Sometimes a youth is rejected (or ejected) due to their sexual orientation. And some young people are forced to leave home by parents who can simply no longer afford to provide for a child.

Runaway or homeless youth typically can’t be identified by sight. They dress like their peers, act like their peers, hang out with their peers, even continue to attend school with their peers. However, unlike their peers, at the end of the day they may not know where they are going to sleep, or where their next meal will come from.

These are the stories of young people from across Vermont who have received help from VCRHYP agencies, as told in their own words:

Northeast Kingdom Community Action provides a welcoming space and friendly faces to the young people of Newport, Vermont. It’s a safe place, free of the social pressures, drugs, and alcohol that are present and available even in small-town Vermont. The Teen Drop-In Center has become a popular destination for the community’s youth looking to hang out with friends after school, get the support services they need -- and of course, take advantage of the staff’s excellent cooking.

The Vermont Coalition of Runaway & Homeless Youth Programs works to ensure that local agencies in communities throughout the state have the resources they need to help youth who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. At one of those agencies, the Washington County Youth Service Bureau, you can see this work in action. Two young women are working with their counselor, Nora Lovelette, who serves as their "life coach," helping them build independent lives and reach their full potential as young adults.

United Counseling Service in Bennington started a parenting class for young mothers to give them the unique support they need to raise their children. To their surprise, they found that this group of young mothers created their own community outside the classroom, helping each other through some pretty challenging experiences – and becoming fast friends in the process.


Tim

Tim Kidder didn’t want to think of himself as homeless. After years of bouncing around from place to place, and with encouragement from his cousin, he decided to check out the Elm Street Shelter, run by Northeast Kingdom Youth Services. There, he found a room of his own, a group of people ready to stand by him, and the tools to help him make a fresh start and take charge of his life.



Nate Allaire arrived in Morrisville at the age of four, when he was adopted. Through the years, a support net of agencies and individuals were there to help Nate and his family overcome the hardships they faced. The Lamoille Family Center's family and youth programs played a key role in his success.

This summer, Nate returns to one of those programs, LINK Summer Camp, as a counselor and mentor -- accompanied by some of the familiar faces who helped him along the way.

Amanda Goyette is an 18-year old living in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Though she has encountered immense challenges for someone her age, Amanda is now a thriving and independent young woman -- due to her own perseverance and the strong relationship she has developed with Danielle Southwell, her youth worker at Youth Services of Windham County.