Youth Focus

Spending the Holidays in a Shelter

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced homelessness. The youth in our shelter can’t say the same. Right now, as you read this, there are local teens who have no idea they’ll spend Christmas with us; that’s how quickly circumstances can change.

Christmas at home is a time for family traditions, gifts, gatherings, and festive foods. Understandably the youth in our care have complex and mixed emotions about spending the holiday season with us. We see an increase in fights, runaways, oppositional behavior, and youth generally acting out as they wrestle with these complex emotions. Imagine being away from your family during the time of year when families are in focus. Kids feel angry, frustrated, and hope that maybe their Christmas wishes will be granted, and they will reunite with their families in time to spend Christmas morning at home. Disappointment is a part of their holiday when those expectations aren’t met.

Temara Carthens, with Act Together, has spent her last two holiday seasons taking care of youth in our crisis care shelter. “It’s an emotional roller coaster for all of us, youth and staff,” she said. “We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy. Some are happy to be somewhere that cares and tries to provide a loving and positive experience. Some youth don’t care how much you give; they want to be at home with their family.”

“We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy.”

At Act Together, we take care of kids. We try and offer our youth fun holiday experiences and the opportunity to make new, positive memories. And, of course, wrapped presents for everyone. Christmas isn’t only about gifts, but all kids love presents on Christmas day. Ruben Marion has been working with Youth Focus for over a decade and spent his most memorable Christmas at Act Together. “One year, a 13-year-old boy received an art set. He shouted out; This is the best Christmas I ever had! It reminded me of how easy it is to make a lifetime memory, to give a gift that can help a child cope with what may seem like the worst time of their life.”

Act Together is fortunate to be a part of a community like Greensboro, who is so very supportive of our youth and program. Every year Greensboro opens their hearts and purses to let homeless, neglected, and pushed-out kids know it cares. Greensboro cares so much that even if a kid shows up on Christmas Eve or Day, there are presents for them too. We try and make everyone feel loved and have full bellies, big smiles, and grateful hearts.

We do our very best to make sure that when our youth have grown, the Christmas they spent with us isn’t their worst, and they leave with one or two fond memories. Thank you for supporting us and loving these kids as much as we do.


To learn more about how you can help, please follow us on Facebook. If you’d like to donate to a teen’s Christmas, please visit us online or donate via Facebook.

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35th Anniversary of National Safe Place Week

TL; DR: Safe Place is a national program operated in Guilford County where any youth can walk into a building with a yellow sign on it and say, “I need help.” Within an hour a licensed and trained Youth Focus staff member is on site offering free help, shelter and advice. The Safe Place program is one of the only options for local youth who feel they have nowhere to turn that can connect youth with a continuum of services to take care of their immediate and future needs including emergency shelter, maternity housing, alternative schools and foster care.  We need your help publicizing this program so we can help more kids and enlist more Safe Place locations. 

If you’re a member of the media, we have a Program Director and youth who would love to speak with you!  You can check out a video of an amazing young lady we had the pleasure of serving here and email us to set up a time to talk more.

WHAT: 35th Anniversary of National Safe Place Week, March 17-23

WHO: Homeless and At Risk Kids (age 11-17) in Guildford County

WHERE: Free and immediate help at designated “safe” locations

Youth Focus, a Greensboro based non-profit dedicated to helping local youth, is celebrating National Safe Place Week March 17-23.

Safe Place consists of a national network of businesses and community locations, such as fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, public buses and libraries, which display the Safe Place sign in their windows. As youth enter the designated Safe Places and ask for help, trained staff members connect them to the appropriate youth shelter for assistance. The Safe Place program, operated locally by Youth Focus, partners with businesses and community organizations such as to provide immediate safety and support for local youth. Local Safe Place locations include multiple fire departments, YMCAs, libraries and government buildings, as well as community businesses like Proehlific Park, Friendly Center, Four Seasons Town Center, Celebration Station and the Greensboro Sportsplex.

It is estimated that more than one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program and Act Together is one of the only options for local youth who feel they have nowhere to turn.

“The Safe Place program helped more than 250 youth alone last year, and Act Together was able to provide emergency shelter to another 183.  These are local youth, children ages 11-17, with nowhere else to go.   Our network of Safe Place locations provides an invaluable service to these children and the community, and National Safe Place Week is about recognizing the importance of their contributions,” said Jennifer Ravenel Lewis, Executive Director of Youth Focus.


If you’re a member of the media, we have a Program Director and youth who would love to speak with you!  You can check out a video of an amazing young lady we had the pleasure of serving here and email us to set up a time to talk more.

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Given the current state and local guidelines for COVID-19, Youth Focus has temporarily suspended all on-site visitors and volunteers. This does NOT include clients or those accompanying clients to appointments. Those coming on-site will be asked to wear a mask for the duration of the appointment and limit the number of accompanying guests. Thank you for your understanding and commitment to the safety of our youth and staff.
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