In 1991, Tyler ended up in Birmingham alone and broke. He accepted an offer of food and shelter that turned to physical abuse and forced prostitution. Tyler escaped and contacted Family Connection through the National Runaway Switchboard. Family Connection staff rescued Tyler and brought him to the safety of our Alabaster shelter. ?Tyler’s father was killed in a farming accident. After his father’s death, the responsibilities of the family farm fell on his 13 year old shoulders. This was to great a burden for Tyler so he left home with some money and traveled all over the country for over 3 years. Unfortunately, when he arrived in Birmingham he could not locate a shelter for homeless youth like he found in other major cities. ?The bite marks and bruises on Tyler and his comments to us that no one should have to go through what he did was a challenge us to expand our services to Birmingham. In 1992, we opened Project HOPE drop in day shelter for homeless youth and later expanded our services to include street based outreach. People ask us what happened to Tyler. During his stay with us, he learned that his mother died. Tyler to return home to relatives and to claim the family farm. Thanks to Tyler’s challenge…there is always Project HOPE!
Project HOPE, services for homeless street youth
Since 1992, Family Connection has operated Project HOPE, a street outreach and drop-in day shelter for homeless youth in Birmingham. We are committed to protecting runaway and homeless youth and, whenever possible, reuniting them with their families.? We provide young people the resources they need to get off the streets and stabilize their lives.? Family Connection maintains a culture where the dignity of every youth?is respected and all youth feel safe. ?All youth have the right to receive services regardless of race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, disability, or sexual orientation.
Project HOPE was the first street outreach program in Alabama and is the only program providing services for runaway, homeless and street youth in the Birmingham area serving?youth ages 16 to 21.? Services?provided through Project Home are free to all participants.
Street Based Outreach:?The longer a homeless youth stays on the streets, the harder it is for them to exit street?life?permanently. ?It is important to make a connection with homeless youth as quickly. ?Our Street Outreach?Team is on Birmingham’s streets talking to young people about shelter options, educating them about community resources, handing out food, clothes and hygiene packs and administering minor first aid. ?Youth know they can receive these services without question or ties, which builds a tradition of trust.
Drop-In Day Shelter, HOPE House:?Provides a safe, hassel-free environment for homeless youth and helps them begin the process of moving out of homelessness. ?Services include access to a hot meal, clothing, personal care items, shower and laundry facilities, a place to rest and a Social Worker to assist youth in developing a plan for their future. ?The Day Shelter is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.
- Prepare Food Items?– Prepare food items like spaghetti, lasagna, chili, soup and other food items that freeze well. Place these items in Freezer Zip-lock Bags, label and date. ?Then, drop off at Project HOPE. ?We freeze donated food items, then each day frozen items are thawed and placed in crock pots so homeless youth who enter the drop-in day shelter always have access to a good hot meal.
- Walk a Day in Their Shoes:? Project HOPE needs your help in meeting the needs of young people from head to toe.? Shoes are expensive and new shoe donations are rare. ?Help us put shoes on the feet of homeless youth by donating new shoes or donating gift cards we can use in local stores.