Emily: “we panhandled to survive...”

Emily was 17 when she and her younger sister were banished from their family home in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  “That first night was so cold. I still remember the bitter chill,” she says.

With little food, the two panhandled to survive, watching in desperation as people looked at them coldly and walked on “as if we were invisible…non-existent.” For a month Emily, her sibling and their cat slept in alleys, doorways and on rooftops. Finally, the Community Youth Network, a local community youth support group, helped them to get off the street.

Emily is now 21. She has a stable home, has returned to school to further her education and employment opportunities – and she is the proud mother of a bright, healthy little boy.

Her experience has opened her eyes to the growing problem of homelessness and the circumstances that drive so many youth to the streets. She willingly shares her story to help others understand that youth don’t usually choose to live on the streets. “Sometimes there are deciding factors that are out of your control.” She’s hopeful that “Together, maybe we can put a stop to it.”

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