It’s dark, late, and cold. Of course it’s cold. This is Alaska and it’s the middle of winter. The evening temperatures are more than 30 degrees below zero—and dropping. And the boy was going outside to sleep in a car.
That scene is what broke Michelle Overstreet. At the time she was a graduation coach at a high school in Wasilla, Alaska. The boy was 17 years old and trying to finish high school. And that night, he didn’t have a place to sleep. All that Overstreet could offer him in that moment was a gas card and a sleeping bag.
For weeks after, Overstreet couldn’t sleep. There has to be a better way, she thought. And the more she reflected on it, the more she realized that if there isn’t a better way available, then she had to make one.
In this episode, you’ll learn about how those sleepless nights led to the creation of MY House, an organization dedicated to providing Wasilla’s at-risk youth a path out of homelessness and into a more stable life. In just a few short years, MY House has helped hundreds of teens turn their lives around, including Brandy Kinney, who you’ll meet at the beginning of the show. The organization is also home to a successful coffee shop and clothing boutique, all staffed by formerly homeless kids. The organization also has helped launch a Task Force taking on the Mat-Su Valley’s Opioid Crisis.
Overstreet and MY House today are getting entirely different results from their work with homeless kids. Why? Because they are using entirely different tactics than the ones that used to keep her awake at night with guilt. “We’ve got to move away from the dependency model, which is, ‘I’m going to provide just what you need in this moment,’ but not ‘teach you to fish,’” Overstreet says. Tune in and find out how MY House is showing so many at-risk youth that they can escape homelessness and achieve their dreams.
Want to hear another podcast with an organization that’s doing amazing work for the homeless? Then travel with us beneath the streets of Las Vegas, where untold legions of people live in the city’s storm tunnels. Journalist-turned-activist Matt O’Brien discovered this community, and then launched “Shine a Light” in order to help them. It’s an episode that’s filled with surprises, and you can listen to it here.
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