Avery Lenhart, YETI lead for the Northeast region and the Windham No Freeze shelter manager, discusses her work within engaging students in education and prevention about homeless youth.
Passion and enthusiasm about the work that we do goes a long way to get others enthused about our mission. My YETI team and I contacted all of the high schools in our CAN region and set up meetings with McKinney-Vento liaisons, school counselors and social workers, and any administrators who would like information about our efforts to end youth homelessness. At each meeting I presented the school engagement packet and spoke about the state initiative to end youth homelessness, our January 2017 Youth Count, and how important the schools are to the efforts to help young people in crisis. I offered to present the school engagement packet myself to students if that would make it easier for the teaching staff. Some schools took me up on the offer, including Windham Tech. Elizabeth Scheff, the McKinney-Vento liaison there, arranged for me to present the School Engagement Packet to the entire student body over the course of 4 visits. I was able to talk to the students about what it means to be homeless or unstably housed, why this is an important issue for our region, what their rights are under the McKinney-Vento Act, and how they can reach out for help if they are in need, or if they know someone who is in crisis. Elizabeth helped with the presentations, encouraging students to talk with her if they know someone who is in crisis, and to get involved in this process as much as possible. I appreciate Elizabeth’s willingness to help and I look forward to working with her more as our work moves forward.