"People don't know what they don't know."
That's the message I took away from my visit with Journey to Dream's Nesa Grider last week.
Believe it or not, right here in Denton County, there are hundreds of homeless youth in need of assitance. I was astounded by the reported number of homeless teens living right here in our community. And there could be hundreds more who go unreported.
Journey to Dream has been helping homeless, at-risk, or potentially at-risk teenagers throughout Denton County since its inception in 2004. Their mission is to support teens affected by destructive behaviors.
They provide programs in local schools including school prevention assemblies, curriculum-based support groups, and school awareness campaigns. These are all designed to give teens the skills and tools necessary to overcome adversity and live purposeful lives.
They also provide homeless services for those in need of a place to sleep and eat. Their youth homeless shelter, Kyle's Place, opened in July 2017 and is the only youth homeless shelter here in Denton County. In addition to Kyle's Place, Journey to Dream also provides case management and support groups for these homeless youth.
Tonight, December 20, is their annual Dream Express where kids will have the opportunity to shop through their "store" to pick out items for Christmas. Since their first event five years ago, they have quintupled the number of guests in attendance. If that doesn't express how much of an issue this really is in our community, I don't know what else will.
So now that we've defined the problem, the question is - "How can we help?" Nesa says Number One is to bring even more awareness to this issue. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers. This is a real issue here in our community. And there are things we can do to help.
You can volunteer with Journey to Dream - serving on their Fundraising Event Committee, offering Administrative Support, being an Awareness Ambassador, or serving as a Student Outreach Chaperone.*
And as Journey to Dream grows, their financial needs grow as well. As a way to give back this Christmas season, I'm personally asking you to consider visiting their website (JourneytoDream.com) to make a donation. Even the smallest donation can make a big difference. Especially because if you donate before the end of 2017, they have a grant that will match each donation made dollar-for-dollar.
In this season of giving, I hope we can all find ways to positively impact the lives of those in need around us. There are so many opportunities to serve right here in our local community. Our mission with Denton County Giving is to bring awareness to those opportunities so that we can all find ways to help.
Thank you to Nesa Grider and the rest of the Journey to Dream team for allowing us to bring awareness to their cause this week.
*If you'd like to find out more information about the history of Journey to Dream, how to volunteer, or how to donate, visit their website: JourneytoDream.com.