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New Girls SHElter Reaches Out to Children Living on Philadelphia’s Streets

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November 21st Open House/Open Mic Supports National Runaway Month

Philadelphia, PA – As we approach Thanksgiving, there is a new reason to give thanks: a new shelter for runaway girls in Philadelphia. This program, called the Basic Center Program or “Girls SHElter,” offers runaway prevention and intervention to girls under age 18 who have run away, are homeless, or are at risk of running away or becoming homeless.

“So many homeless kids in Philadelphia are living on the street – they are not even couch surfing,” said Brenda Dawson, Senior Vice President of Children and Family Services at PathWays PA. “There are significant numbers of girls who are homeless, and they face many risks by staying on the street.”

Runaway and homeless youth are more likely to commit crimes and/or be victims of crimes, including substance abuse, gang involvement, youth prostitution, vandalism, theft, and assaults. One girl who recently came to the SHElter was a 17-year-old exotic dancer working in an adult environment where she was exposed to drugs, sex, and physical abuse. Similar situations happen far too often to homeless youth.

The Girls SHElter offers a new opportunity to girls in the city to move away from crime and its effects. It provides a safe, stable living environment, educational programming, basic skills training, health screening referrals and assistance with family reunification or appropriate placement beyond the SHElter.

“Our aim is to approach each individual client with dignity and respect while offering various services as well as a safe and beautiful living environment,” said Lenora Pope, Program Manager at the Girls SHElter. “This program gives girls a chance at a good life when almost everyone else has walked away from them.”

Once they enter the SHElter, girls can stay for 21 days, during which time they reconnect with school, healthcare, and their families while gaining skills in maintaining healthy relationships with family members and others. Once the three weeks are up, girls return to their families or to new placements.

“One mother said that the time her daughter spent at the SHElter gave them both a chance to cool off,” said Pope. “At the same time, we were able to work with her daughter on relationship negotiation so that she could communicate better with her mother.” Like all visitors to the SHElter, even after the daughter leaves, she can continue to call and visit the program to receive counseling and referrals.

The Girls SHElter is federally funded through a grant from the Administration for Children and Families under their Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) funding. The SHElter is licensed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

Join us on November 21st 2011 4pm- 7pm to learn about the trials of runaways and some of the dangers they face while out on the streets. Open mic, singing, dancing, poetry, and spoken word will be from 5:30-6:30.
5013 Hazel Avenue. Philadelphia, PA 19143. 215-397-4287
All members of the community are welcome.


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