Franklin-Based Nonprofit Helps Homeless Youth of Johnson County
Story & Photography Provided
’Tis the season to be grateful. For some of us, that means being grateful for good health, or perhaps a cozy home to go to every evening. For 18-year-old Madlyn Graphman, it means not having to sleep on the street.
Madlyn had been homeless since she was 15 years old. A luxury to her was a couch to crash on for the night. She recalls having to use cardboard to keep herself dry from the cold rain. She was alone, sleeping next to a busy road.
“I had a blanket, by myself – it definitely sucked,” she says.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just Madlyn’s problem.
“Homelessness in Johnson County looks different than what we typically think of when it comes to homelessness,” says Jenna Martin, development and engagement manager for Kids in Crisis – Intervention Team (KIC-IT). “We don’t have tent cities or regularly see people living under bridges. Homelessness is living in motels, couch surfing between family and friends, or living in cars or shelter houses near parks. Some of the youth we work with age out of foster care and have nowhere to go. Runaway youth are often escaping abusive situations and don’t have a safe place to go, or perhaps are kicked out due to LGBTQ.”
According to the 2019-2020 annual school district report on Johnson County homeless students, Center Grove Community School Corporation reported 115 homeless students (a 6.09% increase from the 2005 to 2018 average), only to be topped by Franklin Community School Corporation, which reported 217 homeless students (a 14.45% increase from the 2005 to 2018 average). Organizations like Kids in Crisis are working to put a dent in that number.
With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us will acknowledge what we’re grateful for. Studies show that intentionally setting aside time to reflect on what you are grateful for can provide a host of physical benefits, including a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, increased exercise, and longer, more refreshing sleep time. Psychological benefits can include higher levels of positive emotions, a more alert and awake disposition, as well as increased feelings of joy, pleasure and optimism.
Reflecting on and practicing gratitude can have social benefits as well, including feeling less lonely and isolated, and being more helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving and outgoing.
In a time of social isolation, a relationship-strengthening emotion such as gratitude can remind us of the support offered by others, and how others may need support as well.
In practicing gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators. KIC-IT is trying to do just that. As a nonprofit working to break the cycle and prevent youth homelessness in Johnson County, KIC-IT is actively hitting the streets to bring awareness to the youth homelessness crisis.
As reported by the National Network for Youth, unaccompanied youth face devastating harms and barriers in life a result of their homelessness. This hinders the ability to re-assimilate into society, depresses motivation, and inhibits independence, success, and productivity at the familial and community levels. The consequences of homelessness bring despair to youth in the form of mental health problems, substance use, victimization and criminal activity, unsafe sexual practices, and barriers to education and employment. These problems further burden society with the cost of finding ways to take care of these people. If these individuals are not helped, they will likely add to the population of chronic homeless adults.
Recently Madlyn was still living in a tent when friends referred her to KIC-IT. Fast-forward to today – KIC-IT has provided her with temporary housing. She now has a full-time job and is working to save money for an apartment. For that, she is grateful.
“I’m not homeless anymore, on the streets,” she says. “I have a full-time job. I’m definitely doing a lot better than I was, physically and mentally.”
During a season of Thanksgiving, you can practice kindness and gratitude with KIC-IT in these 5 ways:
- 1. Join them during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 15- 22). Visit kic-it.org for more information.
- 2. Partner with them in December as a sponsor for their Christmas event for clients. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- 3. Host a #GivingTuesday2020 online fundraiser or dine-to-donate event, and also consider KIC-IT in your end-of-year giving.
- 4. Clean out your pantry and closets, and help to stock theirs. They always accept food and hygiene items.
- 5. Join them in 2021 as a volunteer – help make an impact in the life of a homeless youth.
For more information on Kids in Crisis – Intervention Team, and how you can help, call 317-412-4973 or visit kic-it.org.