Family Connection: helping young people in need

Birmingham TV stations unite for United Way

SHELBY CO., Ala. (WBRC) - Inside this home in Shelby County, and in a building in downtown Birmingham, kids from ages 12-21 come to get stability. That’s what Family Connection has been doing for the last 44 years.

Executive Director, Susan Johnston said, “Both of those shelters help homeless young people. Young people that may be living on the street, or they are runaways that have nowhere to go, or maybe they have a home they can no longer reside in.”

It started out as a volunteer organization in a tiny house, but now Family Connection has expanded its services.

There are a number of tools the Family Connection uses for stability, like their TOPS program, which stands for therapeutic outreach prevention in schools. A counseling and violence reduction program and over 40 different sites called safe places where young people can go and get immediate help

Johnston said, “A lot of times it’s a single mother and these young people are older than 16 or 21 and the mother may have younger children and say, ‘look, I can’t take care of you anymore. I’ve got young children to take care of. You’re going to have to get out of here. I can’t support you anymore.' But that leaves the homeless young person with no means of support. And they are young people. They’re in big people bodies, but they are young people and they need a lot of help, a lot of support. And so we work toward getting them to a stable environment, helping them get a job. We let them use our services down there to get mail. They can rest there. They can use the computer to help get a job.”

An agency like this can be vital during these trying times. That’s why funding is so important.

“We get our funding for any way we can, as long as it’s legal, ethical and moral. We do. We do. Our board does a lot of fund raising. Of course, we are a United Way agency and we’re so grateful for the support from United Way. They give us about 23 percent of our funding, which is huge for us. We we need supplies. We need cleaning supplies. We need Lysol if you have those available to you. But we have a leaking roof that we’re in this building in our GM. And so it’s hard to get someone out right now and everybody’s so backed up. So if anybody could immediately come out and fix this,” said Johnston.

That’s where you can make a difference by being united with United Way. If you can give, you can donate online at www.uwca.org/united or by texting United to 62644.

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