Streetwork’s Harlem Center: Lounge
"Here they can rest for a minute... and
not feel scared of what might happen."
Streetwork’s main lounge is a large, lofty space flooded with natural light. Comfortable chairs and couches form semi-circles, encouraging conversation among the many young people gathered around. The main lounge is the central gathering place at Streetwork, a place where kids can just be kids in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.
Taking a nap in this space may not be the first thing on a visitor’s mind. Yet most days you can find several teens curled into the reclining chairs along the far wall, catching up on much-needed rest in a place where they feel safe and their belongings are secure.
"A lot of our kids are sleeping on trains," says Youth Advocate Brenda Duran, her voice echoing in the large room before the center opened to clients. "Here they can rest for a minute… or as long as they want, and not feel scared of what might happen."
Young people struggling to survive on the streets are the most vulnerable to crime and abuse. Finding a safe overnight shelter can be near impossible. If drugs and mental health problems are in the picture -- common symptoms of early childhood trauma and abuse -- finding shelter is even harder. The foster care system is overburdened and can scarcely handle the large number of young people in need.
Streetwork was created to help young people with nowhere else to go.Building trust is the first step.
"Because of all of the situations that they find themselves in,our clients don’t really trust people -- anyone -- at first.So our lockers are very important." Brenda says.
"For most of our clients,whatever is on their back that’s all they have. No matter how secure our center is, some of them couldn’t rest at all if they didn’t have a place where they could keep their stuff," Brenda says.
For a homeless youth, a coat or a hat may be vital to help them feel grounded in their unstable world. "Holding the key to that locker means they can take a nice long shower, or just take a nap in peace."
Next stop: Streetwork's Shower and Laundry Areas.
Need help? Call Streetwork at 1.800.708.6600.
Showers & Laundry