Teens Experience Homelessness for the First Time
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. It is estimated that more than 15,000 people are homeless in Colorado. Here in the Grand Valley, teens are raising awareness about homelessness by experiencing it firsthand.
For years these teens have been using cardboard boxes, as containers or maybe to wrap gifts in. However they've never had to experience living in one.
Abby Smith, a 17 year old who participated in the homeless simulation, said, "It's really important, especially as the weather's getting colder and it's going to be snowing outside, just to experience what they go through every day."
For one night, these teens will call this cardboard village home.
Emily Kempton, the youth ministries director of First United Methodist Church of Grand Junction, said, "They can only bring a sleeping bag, a pillow and one plastic grocery bag full of personal items."
Temperatures are expected to get in to the 30s throughout the night.
Kempton said, "Odds are good they're going to be cold and odds are good a lot of them are going to want to go home throughout the night."
Homelessness plagues our world, our nation, and our county.
"We are working with several organizations in town doing mission work, Hope of the Grand Valley, Homeward Bound, organizations that help end homelessness," said Kempton.
Thirteen-year-old Katie Garner, another participant, said, "We collected can foods, bibles and sheets for the homeless people."
The Homeward Bound homeless shelter in Mesa County has a 90 person capacity and has been full for the last 20 months.
"Experiencing that un-comfortability is my goal because it makes them more understanding towards people who do have cardboard villages in our own community," Kempton said.
While many of the teens worried about the cold, throughout the day they began to see the big picture.
"To me doing this is important because it shows us kind of how privileged we are and it shows us what other people are going through compared to what we are going through," said Garner.
While this is their reality for just a night, many others in our community don't know the next time they'll have a real roof over their head.