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Helping Homeless Teens in Plano at City House

By Allison Wilson

The Department of Justice estimates that more than 1.7 million teens experience homelessness in the U.S. every year. That's why it's so important to be aware of and support organizations such as City House in Plano.

City House was founded in 1988 by two school teachers who noticed students living out of their lockers and cars and decided to do something about it. They established a six-bed teen homeless shelter that has since grown into a 48-bed multi-faceted organization serving at-risk youth who are struggling with abuse, neglect or homelessness.

"Plano is no different than any other town in America," says Rob Scichili, Marketing and Communications Director for City House. "There are homeless teens here, but they are mostly hidden because they couch-surf and live with friends. Unfortunately abuse and neglect also takes place here, and there is a need that Child Protective Services deals with every day. People need help, and it literally takes a community. City House is one of many fantastic non-profits that help children and families, and it is an important part of what makes the DFW Metroplex so great."

City House serves children, teens and young adults through its emergency children's shelter in Plano; counseling services for individuals and families; and its Transitional Living Program, or TLP, in Plano and Frisco. The shelter, called My Friend's House, takes in children age newborn to 17 and provides care and services to help them get back in their homes or find foster homes for up to 90 days. Licensed therapists provide individual and family counseling within the shelter and also on an outpatient basis. The TLP focuses on homeless young adults age 18-21, teaching them the skills they need to live independently.

Scichili says that one of the biggest efforts City House tries to tackle every day is simply awareness. People often do not think of youth homelessness when it comes to an affluent area like Collin County, but it exists. Awareness helps create a positive effect that causes natural prevention and more support.

"Keeping our eyes open and reacting when we see someone who needs help is always a good thing," Scichili says. "Homelessness is not going to go away, but we can impact its growth significantly if more and more become involved and it starts with awareness."

To help raise awareness, City House hosts several fundraisers throughout the year, including the annual Collin Classic Bike Rally and the Fall Gala. The organization also relies heavily on community support- especially its volunteers.

"Our volunteers are the lifeblood of what we do a City House," Scichili says. "We simply could not function the way we do without them. Whether it is rocking babies, tutoring some of our teens or cooking up meals, volunteers make positive things happen at City House. We are so grateful for all they do!"

Contact Lisa Rodgers at lrodgers@cityhouse.org for more information on volunteering for City House.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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