We have had the opportunity to be part of an incredible story.
Neeha Curtis, a reporter for 19 News in Cleveland did a story on a young woman who is trying to finish high school from her tent in the woods.
That began an incredible journey of support.
MANY people have come forward to help this young woman.
As of this post 199 people have donated to a GoFundMe for her that has generated $6,739.
A WhatsApp group has been organized so supporters can come together to help this person.
It’s all been amazing.
I wanted to create a centralized page to answer some questions that people have had.
Who is in charge?
Stephanie Jane has worked with this person for a very long time.
And Laurie Beal has a great deal of experience working with at risk youth:
You can reach out directly to them on Facebook.
But for general comments and brainstorming we highly recommend using the WhatsApp Group.
ALL of us are volunteers here. This is just one of many things we are all doing. So please be respectful of their time.
How Can I Help?
First and foremost, PLEASE do not go looking for this person. She is incredibly private and probably is overwhelmed by all of this already.
If we don’t take you right up on your idea PLEASE don’t take it personally. Stephanie and Laurie are trying to be very respectful of this person. Your items or offer might not be the best thing she needs right now.
What are you going to do with the money?
We will be setting up a checking account for her. But we very likely will not just be handing all the money over to her in one clump. We need to be very intentional with how best to use your money to help her the most.
I can, however, promise you that I will be very transparent with every single dollar we spend. You will see an itemized list of how much money has come in and where it is going.
I’ve started a spreadsheet of money that has come in and what we are doing with the money. You can click here to see that.
May 18, 2020 Update:
As you will see in the spreadsheet linked above we have $12,323.06 remaining after purchasing a phone and two weeks at a hotel. We have setup a seperate checking account (still in the charity’s name) and transferred that exact amount to it. The only money that will be in this account is “S”‘s money. I would imagine the attorney will set up a trust where the money will be transferred one more time.
When is she going to get into a home?
This is something I wrote up on the overall idea of housing:
I want to talk about housing just a bit. It’s a common belief that housing should come before anything and everything else. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not true. This young woman’s situation is a case, I think, where housing isn’t the best first step. Here’s why:
In the first time, in a long time, she is with a group of people she trusts and who love her. Homeless camps can be incredible places of non-judgement and group connection and protection. For some homeless people, society is seen as the thing that abandoned them and even hurt them. Going back to it is not always a desirable thing.
In fact, there is a man at this very camp who had an apartment. But it was in a town where he didn’t know anyone and was all alone. He said his drinking and anxiety got so bad that he walked away from the house and went back into the woods.
I wanted to just take this time to share with you some insight into how some homeless people think. It’s often from a different perspective than someone who has never been homeless before.
Laurie, Stephanie and I think there are things she needs first before we attempt to just pull her out of her current situation.
How can I donate items?
Stephanie wrote this on that topic in the WhatsApp group:
Hi everyone! There are a lot of people in here and it is difficult to keep up with the messages. We are also receiving some strange phone calls and messages from possibly well meaning individuals that aren’t sitting right…and with this app it’s difficult to determine who is who. I personally have been working with “S” for 6 months so I am pretty determined to keep her safe as well as her identity and info protected. This is also not a location that “outsiders” will be welcomed in. It would be the equivalent of someone coming to your house and standing on your porch uninvited. And she camps with at least 25 others that have opinions on the matter as well. We love the gift card ideas as well as the continued donations through the GoFundMe. Right now All of this has been pretty overwhelming for her. Laurie and I will see her soon and explain everything and ask her what her wishes/plans are. Then we can compile a list of items that can be donated, area restaurants for those wishing to support via gift card, and help facilitate how the gofund me will be best used for her based on her plans. Emphasis on her being in charge and her wishes honored. We will try to keep track and update everyone as soon as possible. If you have a specific question you can inbox Laurie Beal or myself so we can better filter where questions are coming from. We have plans to get hot spots and a phone etc but can’t be specific until after we meet with her. I sincerely thank you all for your love, generosity, and support.
On May 6, 2020 Stephanie compiled a list of things that “S” needs:
- Phone and accessories – DONE
- New Tablet (With Built in Hot spots/unlimited data)
- Solar Chargers
- Generator with Gas
- Size 5 to 6 Women’s shoes
- Coast Flash lights
- AA and AAA Batteries
- Lg/XL clothing. (She is very small but enjoys lose fitting clothing and often wears mens.)
- Socks- Men’s (This is a typical Favorite in the community)
- Battery operated fan
- 18-650 Battery Charger
- Bug Spray
These lists will most likely be the first goals to help her to be comfortable even though we all want her in housing.
Some supporters discovered that you can go to a store’s website and email gift cards.
Her email is HomelessStudent@yahoo.com
She likes Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Rallies, or Speedway.
- Hand warmers
- Zip lock bags
- Cases of water
- Tarps Brown
- Batteries AA and AAA
- Canned goods like…
- Hearty soups
- (Think camping and 1 can meals)
- Men’s boots sizes 10 1/2, and 11-13
What do we know about this person?
The NUMBER 1 thing we know is that she is VERY private. So we are trying very hard to honor that.
We also know that she is 18. She has a computer. She goes to places with hot spots to get online.
She lives in a camp with some good people (that I know personally). She is being looked after by them. I truly feel like she is fairly safe.
We are referring to her as “S”. She lives in a tent with a male friend we are referring to as “P” and she has a dog who we, so far, have been referring to as “the dog.”
There are many facets to her story. But at this time we do not want to divulge any other details.
All you need to know is that there is an 18 year old young woman living in a tent trying to finish high school. (On May 7, 2020 we found out, because of cornavirus, she has all the credits she needs to graduate. So she WILL graduate high school.)
I think it would also be fair to say that she would tell you that she is not the only young woman in Akron Ohio living in a tent in the same position she is in. That’s the point of all this. “S” is not the only one. She’s just the only one you know about.
On May 6, 2020 “S” told Stephanie this:
- Finish School – DONE! We found out that she has gotten all the credits she needs to graduate high school.
Obtain an Apartment with all the logistics of maintaining residence, utilities, dog, “P” coming, to name a few. License Car
Where are we now with everything?
As I am able, I will post a log of where we are now.
I believe Laurie and Stephanie are going down to see her today. I believe they are bringing her a new tent and a new sleeping bag.
They also are going to tell her what has transpired in the last 24 hours. She likely doesn’t know all of this has taken off like it has.
I’ve bought her a phone and two chargers. The phone has unlimited data. I’ll be meeting with Laurie tomorrow to get her the phone and chargers.
We got word that she has enough credits to officially graduate from high school.
We got this message:
District Homeless Liaison and McKinney Vento Specialist
Project Rise wrote:
Thank you for the information and the work with her. Laurie, please share the good news about graduation. She has completed her requirements (they have recently changed with the new pandemic requirements) and there is nothing further that she needs to do for graduation. The staff who she worked closely with while attending school are all worried about her and would love to hear from her. Glad to hear she is receiving additional support as a result of the news story. Please keep us posted
The fundraiser on GoFundMe went over $10,000 today. Simply amazing!
Laurie Beal is delivering her her new phone today.
I am very happy to report that “S” and “P” and their dog are inside. They went into a place last night. “S” did an interview with Neeha Curtis from 19 News. The story will be airing a couple nights this week.
These are the video stories that have been created about her so far:
What I can tell you is, is that we are doing the best we can. These kinds of situations are very sensitive and fluid.
Every single homeless person is different and has different needs and desires. We might make mistakes along the way. I hope you can forgive us ahead of time for that. If you have ideas and thoughts please come share them with us in the WhatsApp group.
We have already received some concerning threats from people who feel we are doing this incorrectly. All I can say is that our intentions are good. We are trying to be extremely sensitive to this person’s privacy. But we also want to allow you to be a positive force in her journey through life. And I always want to raise awareness that this kind of thing is happening all over America.
Honestly, I was a little surprised people would care this much. But I’m SO GLAD you do. Caring and love and awareness is how we solve all the world’s problems.
Finally, the primary group in Akron that helps homeless kids is Project RISE. You can learn about them here: Help for Homeless Students/Project RISE – Akron Public Schools