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Shelter from the storm

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Town builds homeless shelter with a difference - this safe-haven is home to school children.

Shelter from the storm

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if you had to wonder where your next meal would come from, where you would spend the night, or when you would be able to wash your clothes and shower, but imagine if, on top of all of those worries, you were trying to get through primary/high school.

In Australia, there are upwards of 9,000 students who attend classes whilst being homeless. In America, 2013-14 statistics point to a staggering 1.36 million – 3% of the school population across the country.

School is challenging enough without having to about your own personal safety, each and every night.

One town in Alaska had such a huge issue with homelessness that they began a counseling service for the children in the area. After the seriousness of the situation hit home, the counseling service soon made way for an emergency homeless shelter, providing the children with a safe haven before and after school.

Fairbanks Youth Advocates opened the first shelter for youth aged 12 through 18 in 2014. The shelter provides a base for children who are without a home for various reasons and gives them the support they need to make it through school.

Director of the program, Marylee Bates, said in a recent interview with Upworthy that she “stumbled” upon the program after years of teaching and hearing horror stories of children who were attending school, without a place to live and be cared for.

The children are given a place to sleep, provided with homework tutoring, food and drinks and a stable, supportive environment that equips them with the best tools to make it through school and break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

“Five or six years ago, I didn’t see this coming down my turnpike. I was actually happily teaching in my classroom, thinking that is where I’d stay. it just seemed like it needed to happen, and it wasn’t happening soon enough.”

“We want to help take them out of that “I’ve got to survive” mode, and now, “I can focus on back on school and staying in school.” I feel like I’m just an ordinary person.”

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