Thousands of families experience homelessness on any given night in America, leaving many children stricken by the grief of instability and unpredictability. There is a saying in Skid Row, “homeless but not hopeless.” But where does your hope come from if you’re the mother of four young, energetic children crammed in a motel room suitable for one or two people? How do you survive days when your kids go to bed hungry? Where does your hope come from when you’re an 8-year-old child whose only concept of home includes a revolving door?
A recent four-part series by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez on child poverty, especially as it relates to education, provides a painfully clear window into the lives of these children. The short film that starts the series is especially powerful, and a must watch for anyone who wants to understand the daily stress and trauma these children face.
I wish we lived in an America where homelessness didn’t exist; where kids could go to school without worrying about where they will sleep at night or if they will have enough food; where kids wouldn’t take on the burdens of adulthood. An America where kids could be kids – laughing, running, jumping, learning – the way they were meant to be.
So what can we do? We can start by speaking up, advocating for change, and accepting nothing less. Our friends need us, and we must deliver.
To view/read the full series:
Part 1: Hidden in L.A. suburbia, wrenching poverty preys on children and destroys dreams
Part 2: For the principal with the most homeless students in L.A., the reality of poverty is personal
Part 3: Whether home is a van, a motel or a garage, L.A.’s suburban poor children learn to survive
Part 4: For children trapped in poverty, breaking free is getting harder
School on Wheels Board Member Angela Sanchez shared her experience with homelessness for this installment of SoCal SoCurious. Listener Victoria asked, “How should I speak to kid about Homelessness?” Listen to the full interview here.
Last month we kicked off our Matching Gift Challenge by sharing 9-year-old Sheli’s story and how she is beating the odds stacked against her with the help and support of School on Wheels. We are happy to announce that our donors and supporters accepted the challenge and raised over $54,000!
Thank you to our generous supporters for accepting this challenge and then for smashing it!
All contributions up to $50,000 will be matched by the Sharon D. Lund Foundation, and longtime donors Steven and Stephanie Dahlberg.
In a recent interview with Selena Rivera of Hoy our CEO Catherine Meek shared the core mission of School on Wheels and the challenges faced by the students we serve.
Currently more than 345,000 homeless children reside in California, and nearly 65,000 of them are enrolled in Los Angeles County schools. Many of these children live in motels, shelters and even cars.
Due to their unstable economic status, they often change areas, which makes it difficult for them to attend school.
And then how can these children get the education they need?
This is where Schools on Wheels (SOW), in Spanish “Escuelas Rodantes”, take action, says Catherine Meek, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
“They are helped with backpacks, with supplies, they are registered in the schools and if they can not attend, they are given tutoring, but not only that. The main commitment of the organization is to give it hope, “says Meek. Since the recession began in 2007, the numbers of homeless children has increased and the need for more volunteers is critical.
Read the full article at Hoy Los Angeles.
Our executive director was interviewed by the Helpful Honda Hero team, who also donated $250 to School on Wheels!
As the executive director and longest standing tutor at School on Wheels, Catherine leads this non-profit which sends tutors into communities to work with and inspire homeless kids. She receives an “A+” from us, and we honor her as this week’s KNX Helpful Honda Hero!
Listen to the full interview at knx1070.radio.com.
A recent in-depth article by La Opinión highlights the many challenges faced by the students that School on Wheels serves, right now more than ever.
In the midst of the housing crisis experienced by thousands of people in Los Angeles County, there are approximately 17,258 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) who do not have a permanent home to live in, and 69% of them ( 11,908) belong to families of Latin origin: 5,834 women and 6,073 men.
And, according to the California Homeless Youth Project, as homelessness in the “Golden State” intensifies, the number of homeless children continues to rise. Since 2014, the number of homeless youth in California has increased by 20 percent to more than 202,329. This represents almost 4% of the school population in general.
“Many children live in hotels, cars, shelters or flee from domestic violence and that is why some are not with their parents; sometimes they get delayed with their studies and that’s why tutors come to help them, “said Lisette Gaeta, regional administrator of School on Wheels. “Here we seek to provide stability to homeless students in a time of stress and transition, and we help them achieve educational success so they can break the cycle of homelessness and poverty”.
Read the full article at La Opinión.