[Hpn] S.F. Center Gives Homeless Kids A Lift
William Charles Tinker
Fri, 21 Oct 2005 09:30:53 -0400
S.F. center gives homeless kids a life
Larkin Street facility hopeful visit from Shriver will provide exposure for
its successful programs
By Jessica Jones, CORRESPONDENT
SAN FRANCISCO - Every year, 4,000 young people end up homeless on the
streets of San Francisco. In 2001, Isabel Corbett was one of them.
"I was living in the car for a couple of months," said Corbett, now 22, who
at the time had just graduated from high school. She and her family were
forced out of their apartment complex after a new landlord bought it. They
found themselves living with relatives, in hotels and eventually on the
streets of San Francisco.
But Corbett quickly became tired of street life. So she did what 2,000
homeless youth do each year: She visited the Larkin Street Youth Center.
The 21-year-old nonprofit agency provides homeless youth with programs to
help them get back on their feet, such as providing housing, job training
and emotional support.
California first lady Maria Shriver has taken notice of the Larkin Street
Youth Center and its efforts to help the lives of youth such as Corbett. She
visited the center Wednesday to learn successful strategies for helping
young people overcome poverty.
Shriver toured the facilities and participated in a roundtable discussion
that included homeless youth who had gone through the program, the center's
executive director and some of its counselors.
"I've been all over the state coming to departments like this one," Shriver
said, adding that she admires the center's "front-line work."
"What I was interested in coming here for is (to find out) what a difference
a program like this makes for you," Shriver told Corbett, who was among
those in the discussion.
Corbett told how Larkin Street helped her get a job after she participated
in its job-training program.
"It has given me a place to live and a base to rebuild my life," said
Corbett, who has been a receptionist for four years.
Corbett said she initially found out about the center through outreach
"I had met outreach
workers before," she said. "And I knew of the Larkin Center and that they
provided services to runaway and homeless youth."
According to the center, 91 percent of the youth who stay at the center for
two or more months move on to stable housing and 70 percent of the graduates
of its job-training program obtain living-wage employment. Last year, the
center helped 45 formerly homeless youth get into schools such as UC
Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Cal State University, East Bay.
Bobby Dean Howard, 25, is another former homeless youth who participated in
the roundtable discussion. He moved to California with his pregnant
girlfriend and found himself living on the street after they had an
argument. After four days, he hopped in a cab and told the driver to take
him to the nearest homeless shelter. The Larkin Street Youth Center was
where he ended up.
"I didn't know where to go," he said. "I didn't know my way around or
Two years later, Howard has a stable job and an apartment in the Bay Area.
Wednesday's 45-minute discussion ended on a note from Shriver about the
importance of stepping up and making a positive change in the lives of
"Both of my parents changed the world," she said. "Not through elective
office, but through front-line work like this."
Program Executive Director Sherilyn Adams hopes Shriver's visit will help
the center get exposure for the kind of work being done there.
"I hope that we get identified as an organization that is doing what we do
well," she said. "It's in our every intention, desire and dream to continue
to expand our services
William Charles Tinker
New Hampshire Homeless / Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640 USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.