By: Krystle Crossman
Kids in high school should be worrying about their homework, relationships, and applying to colleges. They should not be worrying about where they are going to sleep at night or when they will get their next meal. Unfortunately there are many teens in the U.S. who have no homes. Some are alone with no family around to take care of them. Some have parents who are never around and so they have to take care of younger siblings. No matter what the situation is they are struggling in and out of school. A few of the school districts in Missouri are trying to help in a wonderful way.
In 2006 the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in Missouri opened Joe’s Place. They had seen students struggling through the years just trying to make it through but their homelessness was preventing them from being able to concentrate on schoolwork. It took years of debates, ideas, and meetings but finally they came up with a solution for these teens with no place to go. Joe’s Place provides a warm and stable home for teens who have nowhere else to live.
When teens come to Joe’s Place they have a family. There are house parents who stay at the house with the teens to provide a stable family environment for them. There is no rent charged, nothing that the students have to pay. They get a room, free meals, and activities such as family game nights. The dinners are served at the same time every night and everyone sits around at the table and eats as a big family. The house parents also provide homework help to those who require it.
One of the biggest reasons that this works for students is that they finally have a stable and consistent schedule. Having this kind of stability allows the students to have the time to study and get help if they need it. It also takes stress and worry away. They no longer have to decide whether to do their homework or fight to find food. They are able to concentrate as they are warm and fed. The Jennings School District in Missouri opened Hope House which is just like Joe’s Place only it is for girls only. There are a few places in the country that offer this service to homeless or struggling teens but unfortunately not enough.