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“It's not just about being able to write a check. It's being able to touch somebody's life.” - Oprah Winfrey
Charmia Carolina is a mom, a Sasha Bruce Youthwork grad, and a GED recipient. She is a powerful young woman who opens up in front of councilmembers and shares her story because she knows her life and the lives of her friends matter.
At 19, Charmia found herself homeless with two children and another on the way. She thought to herself, “how could this happen again.” The first time she was put out, she was only 14 and having problems at home. It is easy for her to admit now that she wasn’t mature enough then to know what was in her best interest. Having aged out of foster care and with little supports to turn to, Charmia was left to fend for herself on the streets, while her little girls lived in their grandmother’s cramped apartment. Not having a high school diploma, and knowing things needed to change, Charmia applied to a homeless services program for youth that would provide her with a GED and a workforce readiness skill in carpentry. Over 352 young people applied to that same program. It only had 35 slots. Despite the odds, Charmia was accepted into the program, while 317 youth were left to find another option.
DC Alliance of Youth Advocates wants to change these statistics. This year alone, we worked to pass legislation geared towards homeless youth like Charmia. The youth-focused legislation provided funding for more beds, drop-in shelters, street outreach, family reunification programs, and funding for community organizations that provide education and workforce training.
And the youth homelessness legislation is just a piece of what DCAYA works on. By focusing on the spectrum of services geared towards young people – afterschool learning, high school credentialing programs, and re-engagement opportunities – DCAYA works to make sure youth are getting the resources they need to blossom into self-sustaining adults.
Charmia is just one example; there is a story behind every statistic. We work to change these statistics because we know the youth behind the numbers. You can change the lives of DC youth by contributing to DCAYA on June 19th at bit.ly/domoreDCAYA. Young people like Charmia are proven examples of what can happen when a community chooses to Do More.
Angela Massino is the communications manager at DC Alliance of Youth Advocates. She collects stories of DC youth, program providers, and community advocates to convey the resilience, passion, and needs of the DC youth serving community. If you or your program youth have a story to share with Angela, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.