Stephanie and Samantha
A tale of two lives
Stephanie is turning 18 tomorrow! She has just graduated from high school, and wants to be a teacher. She’s a good student, and really loves working with kids.
It looks like it will be a great weekend for her birthday. Dinner tonight with her parents, with presents from her family, then out with her friends tomorrow night when they go to Canobie Lake, and fireworks to top off the day.
Things are going great!
Three months later, Steph is getting ready to head off to college. She is out shopping with her parent for all the things she needs for her dorm room. She is excited to meet new people and have the college experience.
Samantha is also turning 18 tomorrow. She also just graduated, is a good student, and wants to be a teacher. But at the end of the day tomorrow, Sam will have nowhere to live.
Sam is one of about 100 kids who age out of the NH foster care system each year. She has been in foster care since she was 11. There were no foster families available, so Sam went to a group home. She has no family that she can stay with now. Her dad is in jail, and her mom left the state years ago. Tomorrow, she will be given a list of shelters (most, if not all, will be full) and food pantries, and will try to pack all of her belongings into a backpack and suitcase.
Three months later, Sam is homeless and desperate. Winter is coming, and she has nowhere to go. Any thoughts of college seem forever out of reach, as she tries to find food and a safe place to sleep for the night ahead. Her suitcase was stolen, and she is now down to just the items in her backpack. A change of clothes, a toothbrush, a book, and a candy bar are her worldly possessions. A guy offers her a hotel room for the night, in exchange for her “services”. She is cold, tired, and hungry. She has never done this before, but she is running out of options…
No young person should ever be in the situation that Samantha is in. Foster kids, in particular, have been removed from their families due to neglect or abuse, and many have PTSD issues relating to their early lives. Often, they have no one to talk to, to get advice, or help. Runaways and "throwaways" (kids who have been kicked out of their homes) are often in a similar position. There are currently 400 homeless kids in the Nashua area, who are alone, some of them parents themselves.
Stepping Stones is here to provide resources to these young adults. A place to rest, share a meal, job training, help to find housing options, education, independent living skills, child care, and small business incubators are all provided in a community environment where everyone helps out and contributes their own unique talents.