Event Raises Teen Homelessness Awareness
Eighteen years following the tragic death of Reggie Kelsey, an 18-year old who aged out of foster care and died homeless and destitute, his story still resonates with those who have heard it in the state of Iowa.
“First time I heard about Reggie’s story, it made me realized how lucky I am to have a stable home and support system, which is why I wanted to do whatever I can to make sure no one goes throught that,” said Chris Mendez, an Iowa State University freshman who attended his first Reggie’s Sleepout Fridayk night.
Mendez was among those who participated in Reggie’s Sleepout in Ames, an event that raises funds and awareness for youth homelessness in Central Iowa, and supports three local organizations working to address youth homelessness: YSS, Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS) and Emergency Residence Project (ERP).
While rain clouds threatened over the Cyclone Sports Complex, students, residents and volunteers built makeshift shelters out of boxes and tents on the grassy field.
Some sleepout participants said they felt a connection to Reggie’s story and the cautionary tale of youth homelessness.
“We work with so many young. bright young professionals and when you hear about (Reggie’s) story and how he wasn’t given the opportunities we are given, it compels you to participate in events like (Friday) to raise awareness of youth homelessness,” said Laney Crawford, who works with young professionals as a part of FUEL Story County, formerly Young Professional of Ames.
Among those participating Friday was Reggie Kelsey’s family, his sisters, Angela Yanez (Kelsey) and Tamara Kelsey and three of Reggie’s nieces and nephews, one of whom shares his namesake…