[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I’m out in public and see someone who looks to be homeless I don’t look the other way; I help them. People have a tendency to look the other way, give dirty and judgmental looks, accuse them of wrongdoing, and generally treat them as lesser people. Many think they chose to be on the streets and don’t have an urge to get back on their feet and start new. It makes me sad whenever I see and hear all these false assumptions. Through the experiences I’ve had working with the homeless I know many of them are very educated, nice, and helpful and all deserve a chance to regain a stable living.

Most of the homeless I’ve met did not choose to be homeless. I’ve met some who were very successful but lost everything due to injuries, divorces, lay-offs, and even depression. My family and I know a woman named Melony who struggles to find work and retain her home. Melony’s story is similar to many who cannot find work for various reasons. Her life began to unravel after being laid off from her job at an elderly care facility. Although her two successful sons have asked her countless times to stay with them and help her, she simply replies that it is her problem and hers to fix. Melony maintains the home she had before losing her job but due to her age, has found that panhandling is her only option for work. Personally knowing Melony before her lay off and later struggles we hope that she can find work soon. While she is out panhandling we also hope that people are tender to her, her unspoken story and her attempt to regain stability.

How I Care For The Homeless
Bill, a homeless Vietnam veteran, is also a father and a grandparent. He collects recycleables around town, including the Fulton Mall, to pay his bills.

Since learning of Melony’s hard time, my family and I serve the community twice a year by handing out homemade meals, and articles of clothing to the homeless. After doing this for a couple years we started to build relationships and trust among the homeless communities. Once trust was built we would stay and have lunch, talk with them about life, ask what their housing was like and if they needed anything. If they asked for money we would kindly ask if they would like any items like clothes, food, dog food, gift cards to use in the future, or other things. Some would ask for the littlest of things like: a deck of cards or baby wipes. Others would ask for bigger, needier items such as hygiene products, first aid kits, heavy duty blankets and jackets; things that would help them get through daily life.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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