Crib Staffer speaks in DC at 40th Anniversary of Runaway and Homeless Youth ActBy Administrator
Our Challenge the Gap program was created to find and support progressive, non-proselytizing religious charities whose work reflects shared values with the humanist community. The Night Ministry was our Challenge the Gap Q3 2014 beneficiary and received a grant of $10,260.
On October 22, the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Family & Youth Services Bureau commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in Washington, DC. Three incredible young people who have thrived in the face of housing instability spoke about the need for increased support around youth homelessness. Syncere St. Jamyz, a Youth Worker at The Crib, had the privilege of being among the three young adults chosen to address the audience.
St. Jamyz shared her own struggle with homelessness – revealing that as a teen, when her mother passed away from cancer, she was without a safe place to call home. St. Jamyz says that growing up, she didn’t “have it bad.” She lived with her mother, grandmother and sister, who were all supportive influences in her life. It wasn’t until St. Jamyz decided to “come out” that family support became scarce.
“I was always told by friends and family, ‘don’t be afraid to be who you are’ but they forgot to mention that they actually thought ‘unless you are gay, keep that to yourself,’” said St. Jamyz during her remarks at the event.
St. Jamyz was confronted with the death of her mother and rejection from her support system all in the span of a year. She struggled to find safe places to sleep while attempting to attend college and complete her homework each night. When The Crib, The Night Ministry’s overnight emergency shelter for youth ages 18 – 24, opened in 2011, she sought refuge and found solace in the program’s model of care.
“Sometimes when young people reach out for help, service providers have a life road map set up for them…a lot of times it’s just like ‘I need this one basic thing at this moment in time. Maybe I’m not thinking about going to college. Right now, I just want a safe place to lay down for the night,’” St. Jaymz said.
Today, as a full-time member of The Crib’s staff, St. Jamyz helps create a safe space for guests at The Crib and helps connect young people to additional resources in the community. She advocates for extending resources to young people experiencing homelessness without asking questions and building relationships with youth that can later be leveraged to help them succeed – but on their own terms.
St. Jamyz shared the panel with many other influential individuals like Laura Green Zeilinger, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and musician Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of True Colors Fund.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) was first authorized in 1964. The Act supports programs that provide youth with a stable foundation from which they can connect with services, reunify with their families or develop the skills needed to live independently. RHYA grantees help youth to achieve education and employment goals set by the youth. The Night Ministry is a proud RHYA grantee.