WASHINGTON, D.C. · June 20, 2007 /PRNewswire/ — The House of Representatives on June 20th heard testimony at a hearing today about the crisis of youth homelessness, disconnected youth, and youth aging out of foster care. Sen. Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ] and Sen. Mel Martinez [R-FL] have introduced S. Res. 226, a bi-partisan resolution declaring November as “National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.” Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Jerry Weller [R-IL] and Rep. Mike Ferguson [R-NJ] are working to introduce a similar resolution in the House.
The idea for a national month to build awareness of the critical issue of youth homelessness – which leads children as young as 11 years old into such horrible situations as human trafficking and drug use – was initiated for The RE*Generation, a campaign launched by Virgin Mobile USA and Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group, to connect at-risk youth with young people who want to help and make a difference around the issue of homeless youth.
“A resolution and designated month will go a long way toward building awareness of the more than one million children and teens that are without homes and in crisis,” said Dan Schulman, CEO of Virgin Mobile USA. “We trust November will serve as a call to action for Americans to learn more about this vital issue, as well as find ways to support the organizations working to help homeless youth in their own communities.”
Jewel, who experienced homelessness as a teen in San Diego, Calif., will testify today as part of the hearing before the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. This will be the first occasion that singer-songwriter Jewel will act in her new capacity as Ambassador for Virgin Unite, supporting its work on behalf of critical social and environmental issues around the world starting with youth homelessness in this country.
“I know first-hand what it’s like to be young and without a roof over my head,” said Jewel. “I’m blessed that my own story has had such a positive ending. But the same cannot be said for the over one million kids out there on the streets who are at risk and have no voice in society. I’m honored to join forces with those who are rallying to generate real awareness about this critical issue, and look toward solutions on both the national and community levels.”
Together with charitable partners StandUp For Kids and YouthNoise, Virgin Mobile USA organized a national task force to advocate for Congressional recognition of November as “National Homeless Youth Awareness Month,” with support from The Children’s Health Fund, The National Alliance to End Homelessness, Virgin Unite and other like-minded organizations.
“Unfortunately, families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population. We have to bring attention to the number of youth alone on the streets and work to ensure our children have a roof over their heads. Designating November ‘National Homeless Youth Awareness Month’ is an important first step to encourage local governments, businesses, community organizations and volunteers to work together to give at-risk youth a home,” said Sen. Lautenberg.