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Pediatric Community Advocacy Rotation – Homeless Youth

The beautiful view from the Team Rooms at Eskenazi Hospital

What makes someone homeless? Is it when a person sleeps on the sidewalk and only has possessions that they can carry with them through the day? Is it showing up at a shelter at night and eating a meal in a line with many other people who are similarly struggling?

Homelessness looks like many things. It can also mean sleeping on someone else’s couch, spending weeks on end in a hotel, or staying in abandoned buildings. Homelessness happens to people of all ages. There are teenagers who find themselves homeless and Outreach Incorporated has taken on the role of equipping these people in need with the skills to transform their lives.

Outreach Inc. is an organization that offers homeless youth from 14-24 resources targeted for young people. They have a place to learn about jobs, take a shower, eat a meal, do their laundry, and build relationships through it all. It is located in a neighborhood near the shelters where many of the clients are staying and can walk to the building and feel safe. It is clean and modern inside, with ping pong tables and whiteboard walls. They offer case management to plug clients into services such as mental health and social work services. A clothing pantry is available for clients that may be without anything to wear to a job interview. The showers are made large enough for the person seeking refuge to feel safe, but also to spread out in their own space for those few precious minutes. And to make it even homier, there is a patio where clients can spend an afternoon or evening building community.

This organization is one where residents could make a difference by volunteering time during community nights on Thursday, and also a place where patients can go to rebuild their lives. There are many stories of success from Outreach Inc. It a place full of resources for someone ready to change their life, but also full of compassionate people with open ears for those who just need someone to listen. While caring for patients who are homeless is daunting, we now know of an invaluable resource in the community.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Abby Fieldhouse

Abby is from Louisville, KY. She is a 2nd year pediatrics resident and plans to be a general pediatrician.