When you finish today’s On The Dot, we hope your heart will be filled with a bit more charity. We’re talking about a tough subject—homelessness—but one that’s important to discuss in the hope that we can learn how to make a positive difference in the lives of those affected by this all too common plight. There are myriad reasons why someone might find herself or himself without a home at some point in their lives, and you may be surprised by how many of those reasons hit close to home with you. Losing your job or falling behind on student-loan payments—something many of us can relate to—are just a couple examples. Other people become homeless because medical issues resulted in mounting bills, while others simply may not be able to afford the rising cost of housing. Today, put yourself in their shoes. Consider life from their perspective. Let your compassion flow and listen to how you can help.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 75 Percent
Would it surprise you to learn that a staggering number of young people in the United States are homeless? Or that nearly half of them have been physically abused? According to the National Runaway Switchboard, on any given night in America, there are about 1.3 million young people living unsupervised on the streets. Even more concerning, 75 percent of runaways who end up homeless are female, with those age 12 to 17 being more at risk than adults.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Nancy Fairbank, Author of Throwaway Youth
Today’s Woman to Watch has dedicated her life to putting a human face on the epidemic of homelessness, particularly teen homelessness, and is making it her mission to be a voice for this often marginalized and stigmatized population. Her name is Nancy Fairbank, and though she’s still a college student, her charge to humanize the issue of teen homelessness is making a significant impact.
Nancy studied political science and government at the University of Texas at Dallas, where she was named a McDermott Scholar and was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, becoming the first UT-Dallas student in more than a decade to win the prestigious scholarship, which is funded by the British government and enables American students to attend graduate school in the U.K. Thanks to receiving that high honor, Nancy is now pursuing her master’s degree in international development with a focus on poverty and inequality at the University of Birmingham, and has her sights set on attending Harvard Law School in 2019.
But it was back in Springfield, Mo., while she was still in high school that Nancy’s interest in helping homeless youth began. She co-created a mini documentary about that very subject for a class. It was an eye-opening experience for Nancy, and she felt compelled and incredibly passionate about helping such teens. While at college, Nancy continued to work diligently to document the stories of five homeless teenagers in her hometown, even releasing a book on the material called Throwaway Youth: Stories of Springfield’s Homeless Teens.
Sadly, young people who are homeless are commonly considered invisible. While they often still attend school, many people don’t realize these teens don’t have a regular place to rest their heads at night. Thankfully, Nancy’s poignant book gives a face and story to these invisible youth.
Beyond the stories of homelessness Nancy shared as an undergraduate, she’s spending her time in postgraduate studies examining the numbers. With real scientific findings, her hope is to advocate for homeless youth and create real policy changes to address this growing issue.
QUITE THE QUOTE
As artist Vincent van Gogh said:
“To save a life is a real and beautiful thing. To make a home for the homeless, yes, it is a thing that must be good. Whatever the world may say, it cannot be wrong.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.