Teenage years are supposed to be for learning how to drive, finishing high school and all of the things in between. During those years, and anytime in general, no one should have to worry about where they will sleep at night, but a surprising amount of teenagers in Colorado do.
According to data from the Colorado Department of Education, over 20,000 students in Colorado were identified as homeless in 2016. The report considered children who “lack a fixed regular, and adequate nighttime residence” to be homeless, like those who live in motels, or trailer parks.
To combat the issue, there are organizations out there like Providence Network that are helping those in need. Providence Network provides opportunities for transitional and affordable housing while offering help to those who suffer from addictions, homelessness and abuse. Homeless teenagers will soon have another source of help as Providence Network prepares to open an old home on West 3rd Avenue and Broadway for homeless teenagers.
“(Providence Network’s model) is a little bit different than other transitional housing programs. We operate a lot like a family. Our staff lives in the home with the residents. They do chores, eat meals while rebuilding their lives alongside mentors,” Derek Kuykendall said. Kuykendall is the executive director of Providence Network.
Renovations for the home will cost over $1 million, but it will be able to hold 12 people. Small businesses owners gathered on a weekend in September of last year to help restore the house. They were gathered by The Lion Project, an organization that looks to help nonprofit organizations grow through videos, marketing and other tactics.
Business owners assisted with house renovations by doing landscaping work, painting, installing kitchen cabinets and other tasks. Lion Project communication and project manager Kelley Birschbach was one of the people who helped assist with home renovations for Providence Network. He said it was rewarding getting to help renovate the home.
“You’ve got these businesses that come together and we’re all working collectively toward this incredible goal to offer compassion and opportunity to kids who have often lacked a lot of that throughout their lives. I think it’s a beautiful thing, and I think everybody feels that as we’re doing these projects,” Birschbach said.
While working at the home Birschbach said that a man who had previously gone through Providence Network’s program spoke to them about how Providence Network gave him a second chance.
“He didn’t want to live, and drugs were the only thing he woke up for. Through crazy circumstances he got plugged into Providence Network, and it was his last chance and saving grace,” Birschbach said.