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The Laurel House

Imagine being a school bus driver and noticing that something seems off with one of the students that you transport daily. One day you pull him aside and ask him what is going on. He then proceeds to tell you an unimaginable story, a story about how he returned home from school one day to find that his parents had moved out of his family home and left him behind. That precious child, with his resilience, did the only thing he knew how to do. He slept on neighborhood lawn chairs and still went to school daily because that was the one thing he knew in life. This story became reality for one of our very own District 51 Bus drivers. But, more importantly, it was the reality of one of our own Grand Junction teens.

There are literally hundreds of stories about Grand Valley teens who have nowhere to go. Teens who deserve a bright future, hope, and love. These are teenagers in our very own backyards who have been found living behind dumpsters, under bridges or have even been dropped off at shelters by their parents as if their child was just a bag of groceries.

Ten years ago some residents opened their eyes and seen something that most of the Grand Valley residents had not even considered. They saw a need for homeless youth to have a place to go and that is where Karis Inc. was formed. Right now, as this article is being read, there are between 300 and 400 homeless teens in Mesa County. Over the years, Karis Inc. has become a place of hope and now offers a full continuum of services for these youth.

From day to day Karis Inc. is coming across teenagers who have been trafficked, raped, abandoned, suffered from hunger or whose homes were so filthy they looked like the town dump. As you can imagine, these teens are dealing with many emotional and physical traumas. Some of them have been homeless for so long that they don’t even remember their parents.

While in the safe haven of Karis Inc., these kids have a place to go at night as well as therapists, case workers, mentors, teachers and more who are there to support them so that they can learn the life skills they need to be out on their own.

Thanks to Karis Inc. and the services they have given the youth for the past ten years there are now hundreds of once homeless young adults who have graduated out of the Karis Inc. programs and went off to become CMU graduates, Uber drivers,  plumbers, business owners, landscapers and more.   

How can you help? On any given day there is something you can do for these teens. If you are shopping for toilet paper, pick up an extra package. If you are baking cookies, bake an extra dozen. They always need even the tiniest thing, toilet paper, paper towels, or frozen burritos are a good start. On any given month, they go through 300-400 frozen burritos. Donations can be dropped off at their business offices located at 7th and Grand at the 1st Baptist church. You can also volunteer in person or make monetary donations. The volunteer possibilities are endless. To learn more about Karis Inc. and their volunteer opportunities please visit https://thehousegj.org

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