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Granger's Story: Surviving Homelessness
Nearly 2 million children will be without a safe home, trying hard to survive on hostile, dangerous streets by themselves. They have no family, and they have no hope. Granger was one of them.
We first met Granger the day he walked into one of our Streetwork drop-in centers – a confused, exhausted, and extremely angry 15-year-old with nowhere else to go.
He talked to our staff about his life and how it changed when his older brother died. Granger said his mother seemed to give up on him, and his father began to drink and would beat him for the slightest mistakes. Granger said his parents separated and he shuffled constantly between their two homes, so he never had the chance to develop friendships.
Granger told us a teacher sexually abused him when he was 10, and he told his mother about it. His mother refused to believe him, which hurt and confused Granger. Worst, he felt angry, and began to act out.
Granger said he finally decided to escape the abuse and violence he faced at home. Unfortunately, Granger quickly learned that the streets offered no better alternative, and he frequently got into fights and slept in subway stations just to stay safe. Then he suffered an accident that left him hospitalized for months. He came out of the hospital only to find himself again on the streets, but now suffering chronic pain. To try to alleviate his pain, he turned to drugs and alcohol.
One night, Granger learned about a place called Streetwork when one of our outreach staff found him on the street. He came to us not knowing what to expect, but not believing he could find help.
Our staff welcomed Granger with the offer of a hot meal, a hot shower, and clean clothes to wear. We also offered Granger a chance that few adults had given him before: The chance to be heard when he spoke, and to not be judged.
Granger was not easy to work with. He suffered deep emotional trauma from being homeless and from childhood abuse that we had to help him overcome. Slowly Granger began to trust us, and those first months, we seemed to be making progress in reaching him. Granger told us then that he wanted to change his life and did not want to live on the streets anymore.
With our guidance, Granger did begin to change. Instead of going back to drugs, drinking, and fighting, Granger became a regular at Streetwork, meeting with our counselors and using the referrals we gave him for services over several months. Granger’s determination was impressive, especially when it helped him quickly find a job at a grocery store.
Next, we helped him find supportive housing, and he was so eager to find his own place that he would spend extra time doing research and sharing his notes with us. Those efforts finally paid off when we received great news: Granger had been accepted for a housing program for homeless teens! Thanks to the compassion of our donors, we were able to give Granger small housewarming gifts of basic kitchenware and a few furnishings.
Still, the most important gift Granger received was hope. With Streetwork and with the help of our supporters, Granger got the second chance he deserved to find a brighter, better, and safe future, away from crisis, and toward confidence.
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* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.