A Place To Call Home

An organization in Dallas seeks to provide a safe space for homeless youth

by Hannah Walter

In 2012, community leaders from the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, approached its neighboring high school, North Dallas High School, to see how the congregation could best serve the school and their community. What they discovered was a startling fact: in the Dallas Independent School District, 3,000 students are designated as homeless. While many of these students are not on the streets every night, they do not have a permanent place to call home, causing them and their families to stay in hotels, cars, or at a friend or family member’s house.

In response, Church of the Incarnation developed a drop-in program every Friday morning for students who the high school identified as being homeless or transitional. Students were able to receive breakfast, clothing, toiletries, and supplemental food for the weekend. After three years of growth and success, Incarnation House opened as an independent, nonprofit organization with the mission of providing youth in the community with the resources they need to succeed and establish a secure future. As program manager Laura Fredericks explains, “Our hope is once they get out of high school, we can get them into a living wage job. Whether that’s through trade school or college, we are really focused on helping them grow into adults.”

One thing that makes Incarnation House unique and successful is its community partnerships formed with organizations that have the same goals and target the same populations. The students are able to receive meals, counseling, admissions aid, and help with study skills. In addition, the students—as well as their families—are provided with health care and dental services. These partnerships provide assistance for more than basic needs; the students are receiving care that will help them make big steps toward their futures.

Since opening Incarnation House, Fredericks sees the most change in the attitudes of the students: “We have learned that the kids are very eager to improve their circumstances. They are very open to any type of service or group or life skills that we have.” By contributing to the well-being of youth in the community, Incarnation House gives those who take part in their program the chance to grow and succeed.

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