We’ve all heard of Help for Homeless Pets, but sadly pets aren’t the only homeless hearts that need help in our community. Did you know that nationally about 1 in 30 teens ages 13-17 are without a permanent place to call home? That’s about 700,000 kids in the U.S.! And Billings isn’t immune to teen homelessness. There a hundreds if not thousands of teens in our community who find themselves on the streets at one point or another. Some kids need shelter just for a night as a haven when things turn ugly at home and others are constantly surfing from one friend’s couch to another. With unstable and potentially unsafe situations at home, a teen might take to the streets out of choice, by fear, or by force.
That’s where Tumbleweed Runaway Program steps in. Tumbleweed offers a number of services, but most teens use their overnight drop-in center as a place of respite when needed. In fact, about 1,000 teens in Billings sought out Tumbleweed’s services last year! Tumbleweed offers its services to kids ages 13-17. Why? Because they’re the only organization in town that serves homeless kids in this age group.
Ways Tumbleweed helps homeless teens
- Drop-in Center— teens can come in for a hot meal, a shower, and to have a warm place to rest/sleep overnight. They can wash their clothes or pick out needed items from the clothes donation closet.
- Food Pantry— sometimes teens just need to take care of themselves and their siblings, so they can come in and grab food items from the stocked food pantry. Local food distributors, grocery stores, and individuals keep it stocked with donated goods.
- ID Resources— many teens need to get jobs but without identification like a driver’s license or birth certificate, getting a job can be nearly impossible. Tumbleweed helps kids establish the necessary IDs they’ll need to survive and thrive in the world going forward.
- 24/7 Crisis Hotline— for teens that need immediate help, Tumbleweed can direct them to the resources they need to get through a crisis situation.
- Prevent human trafficking— over 80 teens have been identified as victims of human trafficking in Billings. Without food and shelter, teens are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking. Tumbleweed partners with others in the community to make sure teens in dire situations get their basic needs met to reduce their vulnerability.
- Transitional Living Program—some teens need help transitioning from the street to more safe permanent housing. These kids live in two transitional homes and have on-site support staff to help them learn life skills in an actual home setting. Tumbleweed houses up to 11 teens in two homes currently. There is always a waiting list for this program.
As you can see, there is plenty of need for our Billings teens who find themselves in desperate situations and without a place to come home to. Tumbleweed is their resource for help and can meet them wherever they’re at, whether it’s for one night or many, for a hot meal or a quick snack, or for help with getting an ID or completing a job application . Tumbleweed’s mission is to end youth homelessness in our community by being the bridge between the streets and a safe place to call home.
Ways you can help
- Food—single serve, microwaveable meals, cups of fruit, snack items, bottled water, light things they can grab and carry in their backpacks
- Hygiene items— toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine hygiene, full sized bottles shampoo, lotion, soap, etc.
- Clothing—new socks and underwear
- Other—hand warmers, foot powder (foot rot is common in the winter), backpacks, and MET bus punch passes
- Gift Cards—teens love to shop for themselves, so gift cards to Walmart and Target empower them to select the items they need and want
- Money (of course!)— Make a one-time or regular online donation here!
Schedule a presentation for your company or group
Tumbleweed will gladly come to you to talk about the youth homelessness and human trafficking issues in our community.
Attend a lunch and tour Tumbleweed
Next lunch event scheduled is December 18 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Do you have special skills you can share with teens that will help them be successful? If you can teach or help with things like: resume writing, application completion, handling emotions, cooking, exercise, or self-defense, these are just a few life skills that you could volunteer your time to share.
I hope that I’ve peaked your curiosity about Tumbleweed’s mission and that you will find it compelling enough to become involved! There are many ways we can help that don’t cost anything but our time and expertise that can make a difference in the lives of these kids.