In St. Cloud, Minnesota, a Catholic Charities group home dedicated to homeless teens is helping young people begin their adult lives on a solid foundation. Opened in 2014, Youth House gives young people, ages 16-24, not only a roof over their heads, but round-the-clock guidance as they build the foundations for the rest of their lives.
With her nose ring and youthful face, Suzie Rice, the Youth House supervisor, blends in with the youth that she mentors. She recently recounted the story of a young resident who broke down in tears when she was shown her room. Through her sobs, 19-year-old “Ashley” explained that she had been couch-hopping (staying with friends for a night or two at a time) for four years, the entire time she was in high school. The relative who was made her guardian after her parents’ rights were terminated had kicked her out.
Perhaps more heartbreaking, however, was Ashley’s high school story. She is an incredibly bright young woman and graduated from high school with high honors. As her honor roll friends went off to college, Ashley continued couch-hopping. The same relative who kicked her out had told her that since she was a ward of the state, her education would be paid for. Ashley has learned the hard way that this is not true. Suzie and the Youth House team have listened as Ashley shares her frustration.
“I didn’t think I’d get to go to a fancy college, but I thought I’d at least get to go to college,” she said.
Now, at the Youth House, Ashley does have someone to help her. Staff members are helping her apply to colleges and complete financial aid applications. Ashley hopes to begin her college career, and the rest of her life, in the fall.
The Youth House continues to help young adults like Ashley every day in the St. Cloud community, providing the resources necessary for a well-balanced, optimistic life.