It’s graduation season and Verrado’s The Giving Tree program partner organization, Homeless Youth Connection (HYC), is celebrating the successful high school careers of 57 seniors from schools across the West Valley.
HYC serves 34 schools to provide homeless youth with basic needs including hygiene, clothing, case management and housing—so they can focus on school and graduate.
The 57 graduating seniors come from 16 different schools. Many of the HYC students have overcome incredible odds, including extreme poverty and abuse.
Among them are several scholarship recipients, an army recruit and a number of students who plan to attend local community colleges and state schools including Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University.
The HYC Graduates
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the students.
- “Kristi” witnessed extreme violence and domestic abuse in the home. She is now graduating with a 4.1 weighted GPA in the top 5 percent of her class. She was also awarded the Dean Scholarship and plans attend ASU for Pre-Med.
- “Trent” was living in his car, had dropped out of school and experienced physical and emotional abuse in the home. Though very behind in school, he made up the work and graduated on time; he was one vote shy of being the class valedictorian.
- “Jenny” overcame years of abuse in the DCS system since the age of 9. She is graduating with a 3.675 GPA and will attend ASU West.
- “M” was living in the desert and in the park while still making it to school. Through HYC’s Host Family program he has found a more stable environment with a loving family. He is graduating this year and looking forward to beginning at Estrella Mountain Community College this fall.
- “F” has seen abusive situations and has endured unstable home environments. She will be the first person in her family to receive her high school diploma. Upon graduation she will be finishing her second year in West-MEC’s Cosmetology program over the next year.
- “K” woke up in the summer between her freshman and sophomore year of high school to find her father had died in his sleep from a stroke. She had a limited relationship with her mother, but chose to move with her mother who has always lived with friends. Over the past 3 years “K” has stayed with her mother at friend’s homes and has surpassed the odds by graduating this year and being accepted into Glendale Community College.
“Currently, there are no other services for homeless youth in the West Valley. Unaccompanied youth aka ‘youth on their own,’ do what they need to survive including couch surfing, doubling up with other family or living in parks or cars,” says Dawn Bogart, HYC’s Executive Director. “Without support, these youth will live in a chronic state of crisis. HYC is a preventative measure that works to minimize these stressors, giving the youth the ability to focus on school and be successful.”