Youth use their experience with homelessness to make a difference.
Helping youth find their voices

05.02.19

Remember your early 20s? Perhaps you were looking for work or maybe you were in school—likely you were becoming independent for the first time.

“It’s difficult for anyone, even with a lot of resources, to figure out how to be an adult and look after yourself,” says therapist Meredith McHugh, LMSW.

Meredith offers therapy at Health Care for the Homeless and the Youth Empowered Society (YES), Baltimore City’s only drop-in center for homeless youth. She helps young people do the hard work of becoming adults when they have no place to call home.

“The youth I see each day have to focus on work, finding safe housing and even parenting—amidst trauma, racism and violated trust,” she says.

Many of the young people Meredith treats have aged out of foster care or are fleeing abusive homes; nearly all of them have been exposed to violence and forced to make adult decisions in order to survive.

She creates a safe place (maybe their first) to talk about what’s happening to them and to trade survival skills for healthy coping skills. “This is the age range when people are developing their sense of self. It’s a pivotal time,” Meredith explains.

Many young people from YES are developing into powerful advocates. Eleven youth joined us in Annapolis to candidly share their stories with legislators—using their lived experience to create a more just society for us all.


Is there a young person in your life who needs support finding their voice? Learn more about the resources at YES here.

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