Open Arms serves the homeless youth of Dougherty and surrounding counties (Source: WALB)
The staff finds the children that need help (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
Open Arms was founded in 1991 in response to the growing problem of youth on the streets.
"A lot of them that are homeless and they don't know that they have somewhere to go. They don't know that they actually have somebody in their corner," said Dinetha Rayner, Outreach Director.
The staff goes to locations around Albany where homeless children may be.
"The first thing they think is he's the police. We try to go and make them feel comfortable. If they're in a crowd, we'll pull one away from the crowd so they won't be embarrassed by the situation," said Quentin Dabis, Liaison.
"We make sure our body language, the way we're dressed, anything like that is not coming across like we're law enforcement," said Versita Lennear, Liaison.
There are different programs that can serve them up to the age of 21. They also can house up to 35 children in their shelters.
"We have different types. Some come in and say I just need somewhere to sleep for the night, I want to get back into school, or I'm trying to get a job, or I just want to wash up or I'm hungry. We're going to help anyway that we can," said Rayner.
However despite these kids' situations...numbers from the school system show that some students actually rise above the circumstances.
"They are finding ways to succeed. They're graduating high school, they're passing their tests, they're not bad kids. Heck, we had one of our salutatorians in the past at a high school that was homeless, nobody knew," said J.D. Sumner, Dougherty County School System Public Informations.
Staff members at Open Arms hope to continue to expand and help more children.
"The money only goes so far. If we had to purchase everything or the school system was not helping, the job wouldn't get done," said Rayner.
"For Open Arms, a lot of the money donated is going to help OUR students, this are our kids. Ultimately it's helping them live a life full of opportunities and hopefully prevent them from living a life repeating the cycle of homelessness," said Sumner.