Membership is open!
Please join us!
• Why are there homeless youth in Oneida and Herkimer Counties?
• How are they managing their lives without housing?
• Are they working?
• What are their hopes and dreams?
• What are the major barriers to living a healthy safe life?
The Mohawk Valley Runaway and Homeless Youth Task Force, under the umbrella of the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition, spent two years trying to better understand and address the needs of homeless youth in our region.
One result is this first-ever research project on homeless youth in our area...the Independent Living Survey Report. Please click on the report cover below to view the entire document.
The 2017 Independent Living Survey was only possible through the generous support of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, the Oneida and Herkimer Counties Departments of Social Services, and Kids Oneida.
The six stories below were written by our local Mohawk Valley youth.
The images and videos that accompany their stories do not represent them directly.
"Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top."
- Abhishek Tiwari
I became a victim of bullying in middle school and high school. It is one of the worst things to experience to know you don't have to say or do anything to people but they still bother you. You can't concentrate on your school work or anything. You have no self-confidence because you start believing what other people say. When I was bullied I felt suicidal and depressed. I handled my depression by being around my baby sister and brother. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with positive people who put a smile on your face.
"Being a young mom means that we met a little early, but it also means I get to love you a little longer. Some people said that my life ended when I had a baby, but my life just began. You didn't take away from my future, you gave me a new one."
In April, I found out I was pregnant. I was scared and afraid. Scared of how my family would react. Would they judge me? Afraid of being alone. Worried my baby's father would leave. Worried of being able to provide for my child. Would I get my child taken from me because I'm not financially set yet? Then I thought, regardless of what my family thought, I have a child on the way and that's all I need to be focused on. My plan for my child is to always be there to guide him/her on the right path and to always love them like a mother is supposed to.
"Hope is the little voice you hear whisper 'Maybe' when the entire world is shouting 'NO'."
While I was in placement, I had to see a doctor there. He put me on medications that were supposed to help me not have as many outbursts. My mistake was not taking them consistently like I was supposed to. It was hard for me to take medications because I got picked on by clients that didn't take medications. Being called "crazy" and "retarded" hurt me a lot and I started to believe it. It wasn't until my discharge that I learned my diagnosis was bipolar disorder with anxiety and depression. My mother explained each one to me. It got me more upset and angry because I felt less of a person than everyone else in my family. My baby sister is autistic and she is the person that opened my eyes and made me realize that our mental health doesn't define who we are and that there is more to life than sitting around and being mad over something we don't have any control over.
"If you don't take the chance to live life, what can you say at the end of it?"
- Naveen Andrews
My way of handling my anger from being bullied at school almost eveyday was to try to fit in by behaving like the other kids did. It wasn't long before my mother had enough of getting calls from school so much at work. I was sent to placement at the House of the Good Shepard. The biggest mistake I made was going there with the same behaviors and not taking things seriously - from AWOLing (absent without leave) to being aggressive towards staff and other clients to damaging property. I was constantly getting extended 6 more months of placement. I spent a total of 3 1/2 years in placement.
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
- Winston Churchill
In the beginning of the year, my mother had me removed from her house due to our arguments. I never thought that I'd ever have any experience with being homeless. It's a scary thing. You have a constant train of thought running through your head..."I'm hungry, how/what am I going to eat?" "I'm tired, where am I going to sleep?" "I'm cold, how am I going to keep myself warm?" I feel dirty, where am I going to wash up?"
"A domestic violence victim can't even start a plan to leave until they first believe that life ouside of that relationship is better and possible."
After being removed from my mother's house I lived with my baby's father and his mother for a little while. It got to the point that we were arguing every day non-stop. His mother wasn't trying to hear all of that so we left to stay with his father. One time while living there, we got into an argument and he physically attacked and choked me outside his father's house. The neighbor saw and called the cops. I felt betrayed by my boyfriend because I trusted him with my heart and I never thought he would do something like that. It was the first time but it wasn't the last. I was attacked multiple times and once when I was pregnant. At first I didn't tell anyone because I felt like people would have judged me for staying with this "man". I am currently still with this person and I feel like people make mistakes and say things they don't mean. I can leave if I want to, but I'd rather work things out with him.
At this time, by clicking on the "Please...donate." button, you will be redirected to the website of the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica. A new window will open. Please indicate in the "In Memoriam" box that you wish your donation to be used to assist homeless persons in our area. Thank you.