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Helping Homeless Teens

Uyladia Jarmon-Colley, 35
Atlanta, Georgia

What I do
I'm involved with a program that provides assistance for kids who are living on the street. I walk around at night looking for young people who are sleeping in parks, passageways, or bus depots and I try to make sure they get the services they need.

Why I do it
I was laid off last year and needed something to keep me busy while I job hunted. As a new mom I felt strongly about doing something to help kids. My friend is involved in this program and loves it, so I decided to give it a try.

A night's work
I go up to kids and ask them, "How can I make your life better tonight?" Their answers are always different: Maybe they need a hot shower, a safe place to sleep, or a healthy meal. We try to get them what they need. Sometimes these kids just need someone to talk to. They've got lots of problems: Some of them are addicted to drugs; others are fleeing abusive homes. We meet their immediate needs first, but ultimately our goal is to get them off the streets.

Greatest insight
I'm unemployed, and I'm the mother of a toddler. You might think that's enough stress in my life, so why add any more? But volunteering has actually made my life less stressful. It helps me realize that I'm much better off than I thought. My budget may be tight, but I can always go to the refrigerator and find something to eat. Many of these kids can't do that. These days I count my blessings.

Continued on page 3:  Teaching Literacy


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