November marks the time of the year that we give thanks with a turkey dinner, when football is in full swing, and when American materialism rears its ugly head on Black Friday. But most people don’t realize that November is also Colorado Homeless and Runaway Youth Awareness Month. With the homeless numbers reaching historic heights in Denver, it is vital that November also become synonymous with the awareness of homeless youth.   

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the population of homeless students in Denver has more than tripled in a 10-year span. It went from 7,319 in 2004 to 24,062 in 2014. Many phenomenal organizations such as Dry Bones Denver, Urban Peak, and Purple Door Coffee direct their outreach toward the homeless youth, but there is an untapped resource in solving this problem—the unaware people of Denver!

Youth become homeless for a myriad of reasons. The CDOE reports that often the circumstances leading to a homeless youth becoming unaccompanied are related to some level of dysfunction within the family, including challenges related to blended families, substance abuse, pregnancy, and sexual activity or orientation. In addition, youth can become unaccompanied because of parental neglect and abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, or substance), incarceration, illness, or deportation. All of this translates to the lives of these kids lacking one thing: light! This light refers to God’s love, grace, and goodness. I believe that the power of God can intervene at any point in a child’s life and change the trajectory of his path.

These organizations will do as much as they can with your financial help, but you may be surprised how the little things you can do upon seeing a homeless youth will help. A short conversation or a simple acknowledgment can go a long way toward making that child feel cherished and respected. Representing the love of God can plant a seed in the heart of that child and can help change the trajectory of his path. When you combine this with the work that LIME Light plans to do, we can slowly bring hope to the homeless and begin to transform their lives.

If the month of November can truly grow the awareness of this problem, then awareness will lead to action, and action to changed lives. But it’s not until an individual is made aware of a situation that he realizes there is a problem. This is why LIME wants to help spread awareness and light.

Click here to read the CDOE fact sheet on youth homelessness