“Not long ago, I met a nice young man, he was the valedictorian of his high school. He had stage presence, was well spoken, and was dressed as well as he spoke. I commended him on a speech and we got to talking about what he’d do next as he began his future outside of high school. At that point, he mentioned he was homeless.”
Joe Roos, Founder and Executive Director of Hide In Plain Sight (HIPS), told me this story. And it stuck with me. I thought I knew the definition of homelessness. The meaning is in the word itself, I thought – no home. Well, I was wrong. In some cases, yes, kids literally live on the streets. In many cases, however, it’s quite different. These kids are living all around us. They couch-surf, live with friends, sleep in their car, and regularly tap into the church and community meals.
These kids are smart. Brilliant, I’d say, in the ones I’ve met so far. Their situation was such that the stability of home-life didn’t happen the way we may expect. Here’s what I mean…
Sisters were orphaned when their parents passed away together
A family was evicted and unable to find a stable living situation for their children
A student had to leave their immediate household for their safety, and had no relatives nearby
I have twin daughters in high school, and each of them know peers that are homeless or at-risk. It’s so pervasive, that if the number of students in this situation were to attend a hockey game at the Pepsi Center in Denver Colorado, we’d run out of seats. It would be standing-room only.
In Colorado alone, there are more than 929,000 students (Pre-K to 12th grade) – of them, 128,000 are in poverty and an additional 24,000 are homeless. What’s more, if we review the United States, the numbers rise to 1.3 million. That means our homeless community could fill up every one of the 30 hockey arenas in the United States… twice.
Joe Roos saw this gap. There were no scholarships available for homeless students
who wanted to continue their education. This was the case for many communities. And this issue is right under our nose. Hence the name, Hide In Plain Sight.
Today, in just three short years since its inception, Joe, the board of Directors, and a few loyal volunteers have educated the community and begun to make progress in fulfilling the needs of so many wonderful students. This includes the recent expansion of HIPS to now provide scholarships to any student who is homeless, or 250% of poverty, to attend ANY public college or trade school ANYWHERE in Colorado.
Here’s more of what’s happening:
Over 120 educational scholarships and programs awarded to these students.
To date scholarship dollars now total $270,000.
HIPS Facebook followers projected to exceed 1,000 followers by year end.
Evening of Heart Gala set for Saturday, November 3, 2018 – and expected to sell out. Join us!
And we just launched this LinkedIn profile.
We’ll keep you posted; there’s much more to come! In the meantime, please visit us at www.hideplainsight.org and “Share”, “Follow” and “Like” us on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Chair, Communications Committee
Hide In Plain Sight