Today, we begin our 'Texomans in Transition' series - to help raise awareness of those in need of shelter in Texoma. While many think that homelessness only affects those with severe issues, we'd like to shed light on the fact that the face of homelessness is sometimes not what you might assume.
Recently, 6 local organizations joined forces and applied for *and received an Emergency Solutions Grant. One of those is the North Texas Youth Connection.
Founded in 1979, the NTYC serves as an emergency shelter for runaway, homeless and abused youth - ages 10-17. They provide a home to an average of 8-10 homeless youth each month. The center's Executive Director, Bettye Finnell, says what the homeless look like is the biggest misconception people have:
"The ones that you see on the corner are very few and far between. What people don't see is the person that maybe is making a good living. They lose that job and all of a sudden they're behind in their mortgage, their family is struggling."
In the shelter, 24 hours a day, the NTYC has staff present. They're like parents, helping the youth in the shelter with getting ready for school, learning to do laundry and cooking, doing their homework, etc.
"You know a lot of people mistake these kids for bad kids. They're not bad kids. They're kids who have had bad, bad things happen to them. They're so resilient. They still smile and want to be kids and have fun. But they've been through a lot of damage."
As they prepare for a big softball fundraiser on May 5th that you can get involved in, Bettye and her staff's current biggest project is the building of a new NTYC, which is near the old TMC. The new building is double the size of their current space, with extra space to grow into.
"You take so much for granted. I don't have to worry about going home and putting my head on the same pillow every night. I know where that's going to be. These kids - don't. "