By Joel Hall
In conjunction with National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month, Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development will host a Youth Homelessness Awareness Event on Friday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m., at Tara Center in Jonesboro.
The event will give young people, with or without a home, a chance to enjoy food, games, and to interact with one another.
Since 2000, Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development has focused on addressing youth homelessness through education and resource assistance. According to Crossroads Education Trainer Jeylin White, who is coordinating next Friday's event, the program will introduce young people to resources, while allowing them to enjoy board games, jump rope, basketball and other activities.
"A lot of people don't know about nonprofits that are servicing disadvantaged youth," White said. "We really want people to know that we are in Clayton County. We're asking people to bring a can [nonperishable food item] to donate and we are going to give that to people in need. If they need food or services, they can come here."
White said the event will include a cakewalk, as well as prizes, such as gift certificates to area restaurants and Thanksgiving foodstuffs. The cost of admission will be one nonperishable food item, she said.
Willie Simpson, executive director of the Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development, said that in addition to food and games, the center will also give away 15 boxes of coats from Old Navy, to needy young people. She believes the event will allow young people from stable homes to become more "empathetic to the plight of homeless youth.
"They [homeless children] have basic needs, just like them, they just don't have a place to call their own," Simpson said. "When they have to leave the shelters at 6:30 a.m., in the morning, they have to take everything with them. One of the things we're hoping to [create] is the awareness of homelessness.
"Our goal is to provide quality intervention, prevention programs to adolescent youth [and] give them a safe environment," Simpson added. "A lot of people just happen to be in this situation. They have no idea what resources are available. It will kind of be an educational experience for them."
The Tara Center is located at 7651 Tara Blvd. in Jonesboro. For more information, contact Jeylin White at (678) 519-3790.