I am passionate about working with and helping homeless and at-risk youth around the world, especially homeless and at-risk youth involved in the criminal justice system. Homeless and at-risk youth, ages 15-24, are at extremely high risk of entering the criminal justice system, typically due to minor offenses. Because homeless and at-risk youth have to resort to illegal activities just to survive, they are more likely to be involved with law enforcement, resulting in multiple charges and incarceration. This quickly snowballs into more charges and longer sentences and in essence, when these youth enter the justice system, it is very hard to get out. The problem is that these youth do not have the support system necessary to navigate the justice system. They don’t have family or friends who visit them and help fight for their rights. These youth, often abandoned, kicked-out, or forgotten, have no say when faced with these crimes.
Further, in recent years, incarceration has reverted back to a focus more on punishment rather than on rehabilitation. We have a huge opportunity with these youth, who are still developing and if set forth on the right path, we can increase their possibilities for good health, well-being and sustain self-sufficiency. These youth need our help. They need people to stand up for them and be their voice. Youth involved in the criminal justice system is not just an issue local to the United States; it is truly an international issue. Incarcerated youth around the world are typically not represented and therefore, not given the fair opportunity they deserve.
Recently, I co-founded ALLY YOUTH SERVICES, an organization that advocates from homeless and at-risk youth. The mission of ALLY YOUTH SERVICES is to provide a safe, long-term, and supportive community from which homeless and at-risk youth can develop into healthy, self-sufficient young adults. We provide youth with basic necessities such as food, clothing and access to services; however, more importantly, we begin to develop meaningful connections with our youth. Our primary goal is to create a sense of community and long-term support for these youth.
Our program model is primarily relationship-driven and consists of four separate programs. We first connect with our youth through outreach efforts and then begin to develop an initial relationship. From here, as the relationship grows, we start to identify necessary services that will help move the youth’s life forward. We act as advocates, linking them to services. And finally, we empower personal development. We support our youth, helping them make decisions, set goals, and realize their potential.
One Young World Limited is a Registered charity England & Wales (1147298) One Young World Limited is a company limited by guarantee (Reg. no. 06970067)