Palmetto Place Children & Youth Services is raising awareness during November’s National Homeless Youth Awareness Month by launching their partnership with National Safe Place. National Safe Place is a community initiative that designates youth-friendly organizations as safe locations for service or shelter.
As the designated Midlands’ National Safe Place agency, Palmetto Place is partnering with community businesses and agencies in effort to combat the growing epidemic of youth homelessness across the community. QuikTrip, Richland County Public Library, The Comet, MIRCI and multiple law enforcement department employees received training to recognize signs of youth homelessness and connect them with Palmetto Place for immediate assistance. The businesses will have a Safe Place sign in the window to inform the youth that it’s a trusted place for help.
In addition, Palmetto Place is partnering with local businesses and restaurants around Richland and Lexington counties to display mannequins during November. Each mannequin, sponsored by Daybreak Adult Care Services, is wearing a hoodie that has various statistics about youth homelessness. Mannequins are located at Mast General Store, Steve’s Deli, WECO, Now & Then Store, 1801 Grille and Café Strudel.
“We want our community to know that youth homelessness doesn’t look like the person wearing torn clothing holding a sign on a street corner,” says Jill McHugh, executive director. “Youth experiencing homelessness are high school students who play on the basketball team and make all A’s, or maybe they attend college and are sleeping in a classroom building because they can’t afford a dorm and have no family. They might wake up from their sleeping bag in a parking garage and go to work everyday at your favorite restaurant. Homeless youth are walking and working all around us and we want this month to be the start of more people recognizing it.”
In 2020, Palmetto Place provided housing and wraparound services to 62 homeless youth ages 16-20. It also received international accreditation by Council on Accreditation.
Palmetto Place is a group home and offers services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness as well as pregnant and parenting teens along with their infants/toddlers in foster care. To learn more about the organization including services, volunteer opportunities or to donate, visit www.palmettoplace.org.
About Palmetto Place
Since April of 1977, Palmetto Place has been a home for children and teens who are experiencing crisis. We provide a safe, loving environment where children and youth who have been abused or neglected can heal from the wounds of their trauma. We prepare teens to live independently and help them reach self-sufficiency. In 2016, we expanded our shelter from one house with 20 beds to two houses with more than 50 beds and expanded again in 2019 with a Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program. Here, the state’s most vulnerable children and teens are home.