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Grateful for support for homeless youth

News staff writer Julie Riddle on Monday introduced us to Emily Weiss, an Alpena teen who has struggled with homelessness.

Fortunately, Riddle also introduced us to a number of organizations available to help Weiss and the hundreds of other young people like her who lack reliable places to live.

The McKinney Vento Consortium, the Alpena Housing Commission, the Alpena Senior Citizens Center, the Human Services Coordinating Council, the Michigan Works! Association, and Child and Family Services of Northeast Michigan, and dozens of other agencies work together to help kids and families find housing and deal with the other areas of their life, such as education, that could suffer during the stress of homelessness.

We can’t overstate the importance of such work. Childhood is only the starting line of life, and a person pushed behind by homeless and all the problems that come with it has to work especially hard just to catch up to the pack. We have to make sure our kids have a solid start, or our communities as a whole will suffer in the future.

The problem, officials from those organizations say, is that too many families don’t know where to turn for help, or how to seek it out.

We have to change that, and it starts with us.

We should educate ourselves about those services. Donate to them. Volunteer with them. And then help spread the word about them to our friends and neighbors. One day, one of those friends or neighbors — or a friend or neighbor of theirs — could find themselves in need of one of those services.

And, if we get involved now, those in need might know where to turn for help.

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