Emily is a Certified Nursing Assistant with a good job and stable housing where she lives with her four kids under the age of six-years-old. The older children have settled in nicely to the new school year, and their path to a Denver Public Schools K-12 education is off to a great start. Without the intervention and assistance of the DPS Homeless Education Network, this story would have had a very different, likely tragic, ending.

A year ago, Emily and her kiddos were homeless living between the couches of friends and family, and nights spent huddled together in their car. Emily’s minimum wage job could barely provide food and gas money, and stable housing was well beyond their reach. Through loving partnership and assistance from the Homeless Education Network, and after months spent on the long waiting list, Emily was helped with housing and provided deposit money and first month’s rent.

What did she do with the nudge she was given in the right direction? With housing stabilized, Emily enrolled in community college and earned her CNA degree. Her education allowed her to find a job so she can provide for her family and stand on her own two feet. And without the little known and underfunded group of loving counselors in the DPS Homeless Education Network, Emily and her kids would still be fighting for their survival instead of thriving educationally and occupationally.

For the fifteenth consecutive year, Sheri and I are dedicating October to support of the Homeless Education Network and the families they serve. We have raised over $53,000 to date, and we are asking for your help to write more success stories like the one about Emily and her four kids.

Stigmattack – Fundraiser for DPS Homeless Education Network

Renamed “Stigmattack,” our fundraiser for kids in our community will continue through October. The need is massive and growing, and your support is desperately needed.

DPS HEN serves over 1,800 students experiencing homelessness. Doing whatever it takes to help kids find educational stability is at the heart of their mission. Students experiencing homelessness in Denver Public Schools graduate at a rate of only 45%, well under the rate of students with stable housing. And the 83% attendance rate of kids served by HEN is well below DPS average.

It is so hard to learn when you don’t know where you will spend the night. Breaking the cycle of homelessness is impossible without an education.

It is turning colder in Denver. Fall is here and life is getting more unmanageable for our homeless neighbors. The innocent kids fighting to survive need our help. Emily and her family are an example of a system that is working. It is a hand up, not just endless handouts.

I know Denver is a special place. Let’s prove it to the kids who need us the most. Please donate to Stigmattack today!

Published by Matt Salis

Matt Salis is a high-functioning alcoholic in recovery who is working to end the stigma associated with addiction and related conditions such as homelessness and mental illness.