Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – When we’re teenagers, we all think we don’t need any help from our parents.
But as everyone finds out eventually, a adult’s guiding hand is key to coming of age.
And when adolescents are forced out of the home before they’re ready, they often find themselves in development limbo — exiting childhood while unable to unlock the door to adulthood.
It’s just a vital age. Seventeen to 21 is a vital age for youth who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their life.Betsy Bethel-McFarland, YSS Director of Communications and Grants
Maybe they were in legal trouble, or ran away from home.
Whatever the reason, these teens are too often found sleeping in their car or in a tent in the dead of winter.
That’s why Youth Services System created the SleepOut 10 years ago—to let the Ohio Valley know that a thermostat and a bed with blankets is a luxury for some of our kids.
These youth have, they’ve been couch surfing, some of them have been in foster care or they were at detention, and they don’t have any place to go.Betsy Bethel-McFarland, YSS Director of Communications and Grants
Teams made up of schools, churches and families will compete in person or virtually to build makeshift cardboard homes.
And then, they’ll have to sleep in them all night, no matter how cold it gets.
It raises money for the transitional living program, which teaches disadvantaged teens the skills their home lives often didn’t let them learn.
Ordinary day-to-day activities like cooking and how to drive a car, to more advanced things like helping me get into university, helping me get my first job.Tyren Rhinehart, Software Engineer with WV State Police
Tyren Rhinehart spent several years in state custody before finding a home at the Tuel Center, which helped him get an apartment and nurture his talent for computing.
He credits the program with the positivity and responsibility he’s gained in his adult years.
I think it’s important to understand that to reach success, especially coming from a disadvantaged background, you have to develop an unstoppable work ethic, and you have to accept and embrace that the journey toward your goal is going to be uncomfortable.Tyren Rhinehart, Software Engineer with WV State Police
With the number of kids in need of their help only going up, Y-S-S and their volunteers are ready to endure a freezing Friday night.
Because once you know where you’re going to sleep, the bridge to education and employment is much easier to cross.
Any success is a huge success, because it’s not easy.Betsy Bethel-McFarland, YSS Director of Communications and Grants