There are thousands of youth on the streets every day in Alameda County due to histories of foster care and moving between homes, deep poverty, family crises, inconsistent education, and lack of access to support to develop basic life, social, and job skills. The experiences of homeless youth is the subject of an amazing documentary, The Homestretch. BOSS was recently part of a special screening of this documentary.
Good food, chatting crowds of movie-goers, and bingo numbers being called upstairs –a typical Tuesday night at the New Parkway Theater, a cozy community cinema that lets you relax in comfy furniture while munching on pizza, salads, sandwiches and more while you take in a movie. On Tuesday November 11th, the theater showcased The Homestretch, with a discussion panel afterwards featuring BOSS staff and other youth-serving agency representatives.
The Homestretch showcases three homeless teenagers, their struggles, hopes, dreams, and journeys. In Alameda County, thousands of youth ages 16-26 are struggling to make the transition from foster care, deep poverty, and family crises like domestic violence, criminal justice, or substance abuse. Yes, their chronological age makes them adults, but their life experiences may not have cultivated the emotional stability and life skills needed to make the sudden shift from having a room over their head and an adult caretaker to having a job and a place of their own—far too many of them end up homeless or in continuing crisis.
The Homestretch highlighted the difficult path and many barriers these youth face—the movie was set in Chicago, but similar stories are unfolding here in the East Bay every day. In BOSS, along with homeless children who enter BOSS with their families, we also serve over 100 homeless, poor, or disabled young people on their own (“Transition Age Youth”, according to health and human service nomenclature), and there are thousands more across Alameda County we do not have the capacity to serve. Right now Alameda County is pursuing a Strategic Plan to expand and improve services to this population, and BOSS is talking with them about the role we can play, given our expertise serving high-risk individuals with multiple health and economic challenges.
We want to thank The New Parkway Theater for hosting the film and the amazing discussion—audience members had insightful observations and cogent questions, and many took BOSS materials home in order to volunteer or learn more. Thank you also to the creators of The Homestretch and to Kartemquin Films, who helped organize the discussion panel!
To learn more about BOSS’s work with youth, contact Aimee Armata, BOSS Director of Programs & Services, at email@example.com. To donate or volunteer, contact Sonja Fitz, BOSS Development Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.