Natasha is a runner. She says that, when she runs, it’s just her and the track, and nothing else matters. One day, the police found her mother dead in her car and she moved in and out of foster care. She felt like it was her fault.
Parker’s happiest memory was a 4.0 GPA in the sixth grade. His childhood life was spent struggling under the loss of his mother and the abusive tendencies of his father. He moved out of his house at 16. He fell into despair soon after.
Natasha and Parker are only two of the thousands of vulnerable teens that Youth in Need scooped from the clutches of abandonment, self-loathing, and other such hardships.
Youth in Need has been helping the underprivileged youth of St. Louis since 1974, when volunteers extended a hand to a teenage runaway. She had run away from home after her parents beat her, but was only thrust into greater danger when the police placed her in a jail cell surrounded by criminals. The volunteers were shocked by the community’s response to this girl’s obvious cry for help and opened Youth in Need’s Emergency Shelter. Now they offer their services to more than 8,000 children, teens, and families across eastern Missouri and the greater St. Louis area, as well as a special program called Head Start for 3-5 year olds and their families.
When we reached out to Youth in Need, we were more than happy to hear how enthusiastic they were about partnering with us for the launch of the STL 50/50 raffle. We love their transparent generosity and altruism. In the wake of the pandemic, the word “community” has become even more defined as we hold our loved ones close. It’s an honor and a pleasure to provide them with the support of the St. Louis community, especially now. They have already opened their arms ten times over to the ones who truly need it—it’s time for us to return the favor, in our own little way.
The people of Youth in Need have not, nor will ever hesitate to take in someone who asks for help. They are as effective as they are kind, as helpful as they are compassionate. But the truly amazing thing about this nonprofit is that they will stick with their clients through every hardship.
One of the videos on their YouTube Channel says something interesting: “We can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God; they are failures of love.” In their own words, they have established that they have no intention of showing apathy. Whatever adversities their clients have experienced, the fault never lies with them. They have, and still will, hep these people find their purpose. Life is a long journey, after all, and everyone needs help when they leave their childhood behind.
“It’ll hurt a lot of the time, and a lot of the time you’ll feel like you can’t get back up, and you just wanna quit. But you can’t,” Natasha explains. “You can’t quit. Because the feeling you get when you cross the finish line is…the best thing ever.”