National Runaway Prevention Month sheds light on youth homelessness


SALISBURY, Md.- “I felt at that moment if I did not leave, it was going to get worse,” said Fenix Youth Project’s Drop-In Center Coordinator Kiaira Dashiell.

Kiaira’s story isn’t uncommon.  In fact, each year roughly 4.2 million youth or young adults experience some form of homelessness nationwide.

“This means if you’re living with your aunt or your grandmother. If you’re not living with your parent or legal guardian and you don’t have an adequate nighttime residence, you’re considered unaccompanied youth,” said Fenix Youth Project Executive Director Amber Green.

November marks National Runaway Prevention Month, aiming to shed light on youth homelessness. It’s an issue local organizations like the Fenix Youth Project are tackling head on.

“I was failed by so many organizations on my journey of being homeless until I came here. Coming here gave me a new light to say that I’m strong enough to get through this situation,” said Dashiell.

Getting through this situation means having resources, something I’m told the Eastern Shore needs more of.

“We see people leaving very scary situations. It gets scary doing this line of work,” said Dashiell.

“You can be surviving and making it work but you still have access to some resources. So what we’re trying to do here on the lower shore is to just get those resources here and help as many here as we would if we were in Baltimore or DC,” said Green.

Advocates say that a call for help could be closer than you think.

“Wicomico County public schools have served over 400 homeless families and students. And in fact, out of an average of 30 students at least one of them will experience homelessness this year,” said Green.

I’m told, it’s a statistic that takes all hands on deck to make a change.

“We have to rely on the communication of the community, educating the community, and rallying the community together. We can’t rely solely on grants. We have to rely on the community,” said Green.

The Fenix Youth Project is taking part in many conversations, statewide and nationally, on prevention. Tuesday, National Runaway Prevention Month will be recognized in Wicomico County. Advocates also encourage community members to light their homes and businesses green in support of the cause.

To find out more about how you can join in the efforts, click here

Categories: Local News, Maryland