Education is the most important foundation to a child’s life. I believe it is also the single most important avenue to eradicate homelessness. A lack of education is one of the major causes of chronic homelessness not only in Orange County, but also throughout our country. If a child’s parents are not educated, it’s highly unlikely their child will get the proper support. Not because parents don’t care, but because they aren’t equipped.
I am a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child– it also takes a village to educate a child. Teachers and parents have to work together in order to instill lifelong learning habits. Of course there are other negative forces including lack of good decision-making, alcohol, drug abuse, depression, mental health issues, financial literacy, physical health problems or losing a job—sometimes there are multiple issues. The fact is they are all connected.
I am passionate and have strong convictions about homelessness because I have been there. When I was a child, I was wrongly placed in Special Ed from elementary school through high school. Because I was born with a small physical disability that was limiting, I was kept out of mainstream classrooms. Unfortunately, I missed the benefits of a full, ‘normal’ education. A perfect storm of circumstances lead to homelessness for a time, but the benefits of secondary education would have helped build a more stable foundation. I would have more job opportunities and a steadier paycheck.
I have not graduated from college but I work and I know I have missed out. As a father and a new husband, my wife and I are working hard to be a driving force in support our children’s education by work together with their teachers to not only help our boys become college-bound, but to be more socially conscious of the issues in our community. One day, they can be a part of helping to eradicate homelessness.
What I have lacked in education, I have gained in the wisdom that comes from self-discovery and continually developing as a human being. When you learn about the damages of alcoholism, drug abuse, lack of financial resources, that is also part of the lifelong education process. It’s never too late to educate yourself about the importance of health to prevent serious health issues and live a more holistic life. Depression and mental health are treatable as long as you seek help early. Learning to ask for help isn’t something you learn in school, but it’s part of the path to evolving.
Of course, there will likely always be homeless issues in our society but I know that education will help to put a big dent in this issue. Through my journey in the Families Forward program, I have been empowered to stand on my own two feet. I have acquired wisdom. I am a recipient of the help and insight of self- development and independence. I have graduated!
Today, I am a proud member of the Families Forward volunteer committee. I am part of the effort along with Orange County United Way as they focus on cutting local homelessness for children and families in half. I am one of the many testimonies of Families Forward and United Way’s mission. I am an advocate— it is a role I was born to play in social change.
— Guest Blog Post by Michael
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