Lydia and Jeremiah's Story

Posted on Jul 31, 2017

Lydia and Jeremiah, two students, were recently homeless and they shared their thoughts on the experience with Fresno EOC Sanctuary Outreach to the Streets (SOS).

Lydia describes the struggle of being homeless, "I was going place to place and being told unexpectedly to leave. I was very scared and depressed, but even though I went through a big struggle, I never gave up." Jeremiah echoes this strain, "I had to worry about where I am going to stay for a while or just a night, on top of that being in high school. I was under a lot of stress, I was starting to run out of ideas on what to do."

There were 35,686 unaccompanied youth on a single night. HUD 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report

Lydia and Jeremiah aren’t alone in their feelings of fear and depression, according to National Conference of State Legislators, homeless youth are at a greater risk of severe anxiety and depression, suicide, poor health and nutrition, and low self-esteem.

Jeremiah continues, "The biggest thing I had to overcome was asking for help. I was embarrassed to ask for help. I shared my situation with School of Unlimited Learning (SOUL) and they lead me and my girlfriend to SOS."

"All my sad crying tears became happy relief tears, especially when I found out I was going to move into my first home. All I felt was relief," said Lydia.

"Jeremiah and I will be graduating from SOUL and will be going to Fresno City College," says Lydia. She is excited for the future, "I’ll be taking auto collision repair and business courses to own a towing company." Jeremiah has hopes for the future too, "It paid off not giving up on myself, no matter how bad things were or would get. I am going to continue working hard so I don’t go back to that type of life ever again. I would like to help others, maybe even with Fresno EOC and all their wonderful programs."

Lydia and Jeremiah made school a priority and it shows. 75% of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out or will drop out of school according to information from the National Conference of State Legislators. Marcelino Rodriguez, SOS Outreach Worker, emphasizes this point when he says, "By providing housing for the youth population, the youth begins to experience a sense of normalcy and begins to embark on other endeavors such as employment and education."

The other thing that shows is the gratitude that Lydia and Jeremiah have for the help that they have received. Lydia says, "I would like to thank everyone at SOUL and SOS. And to WestCare, a rapid-rehousing provider for giving Jeremiah and I a chance, thank you." And Jeremiah sums it up well, "Thank you for all your help and hard work, I will appreciate you all forever, because not everyone knows how hard it is to be homeless."

Marcelino is grateful for the partnerships Fresno EOC has in the community too because it helps to tap into a wider network to find youth placement into homes, "partnerships are paramount and essential in ending youth homeless. Each partner brings in unique strengths and various positive outlets to help our youth population in becoming successful."

Sanctuary Outreach to the Streets (SOS) is administered by the Fresno EOC providing runaway, homeless and street youth ages 20 and younger with street-based outreach, access to emergency shelter, food and personal hygiene supplies, supportive services, case management and Drop-In Center services.