New Venice Beach Shelter for Homeless Teens
A new resource-center in Venice Beach called the P.A.D is targeted at taking homeless teens off of the streets. It was designed as a place where teens that have recently aged out of the foster care system can take solace and explore resources to better their futures.
“Other kids, normal kids, are going through getting ready for their prom and going shopping for dresses and limos and college and it’s really an exciting time,” said Lauri Burns, founder of the Teen Project, the nonprofit organization that runs the PAD. “For a foster kid, it’s like this is the end. This is D-day. When you turn 18, you’re homeless.”
When Abigail Hannah left foster care two years ago, she found herself drug-addicted; living on the streets, and eventually became immersed in the sex trade.
With help from Lauri and the Teen Project, she got her life back on track and is now a student at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and is starting her own clothing line.
“I want my clothes to also help something, so I have a lot of designs in the process where the proceeds will benefit organizations like this,” Hannah said.
According to the board of education, only 50% of foster kids graduate from high school. Of that number, less than 3% go on to finish college.
“Our goal is to get them off the street and actually give them a chance at life because until they get an education and a foundation and some support and some shelter they’re not going to get anywhere,” Burns said. “Eventually they’re going to end up being the older homeless population and we don’t want that to happen.”
Rocco Russell was living on the streets yesterday. At the PAD, she’s checked out the various resources offered by the Teen Project and found herself a place to stay for the time being.
“The past 24 hours has been very different, a new experience,” Russell said. “A lot different than how my family treats me.”
She plans on using her time at the PAD to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
For Burns, its success stories like Abby’s and Rocco’s that keep her going.
“I will dedicate the rest of my life to doing this,” Burns said.
So far, countless teens have her to thank for saving their lives.