Lachelle, a very self-possessed 14 year old girl, has been living in a homeless shelter with her mom and two siblings for two-and-a-half years now. Her family lost their apartment when her mom was downsized out of her job, got hit by a car (breaking her pelvis in two places), and then was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The medical bills made it impossible to pay rent, so they stayed with Lachelle’s uncle in his small apartment until he joined the Air Force, after which the landlord kicked Lachelle, her mom and siblings out. They had nowhere to turn but a homeless shelter.
It’s hard to find time and a quiet place in the shelter to do her homework, so every day Lachelle goes to school early and comes back late so she can use the library and cafeteria to study. Three afternoons a week she finds time to volunteer her time reading to senior citizens. She, like her 10 year old sister, is on the Honor Roll. Her experience in the shelter system made Lachelle want to pursue a career in social justice, and she’s interested in how the internet and social media can be used to raise awareness of the plight of homeless kids like her.
Lachelle inspired the Coalition to launch a pilot program called MENTORING MONTH to find talented and motivated high school kids – who also happen to live in shelters – and find four-week summer mentorship experiences for them at tech companies or in tech departments of other types of organizations.more stories of homeless new yorkers