Program targeting homeless teens making a difference

Seffner, Florida - Beth Burford loves books.

"These are like the best books," she points to a series on a library shelf at Armwood High School. But this teen's story is just as captivating.

"It was terrifying to be on the verge of losing everything every day," says Beth about her living situation last year.

Beth's mom has severe health problems, Dad's not in the picture, her brother's in prison, and her sister is in the grips of alcohol. But with the help of a program calling Starting Right, Now,Beth has begun a new chapter.

"Oh, it has changed my life forever," she says with a grin.

Before Beth entered the program, she was living with her mother at a motel, where Beth had turned the closet into a room so she could study. But when the family was being evicted, Beth was on the verge of being homeless. And that's when Starting Right, Now (SRN) came to the rescue.

"Like a life preserver that kept me from drowning," says Beth. "I was struggling to keep my head above water and they came in and swooped me up."

SRN targets homeless teens for support. The group provides housing, healthcare and guidance through high school and college.

"It's so amazing to watch a child go from survival to hope and the minute they cross that bridge into hope, their entire life becomes different. It opens up to anything they want to do," says group founder Vicki Sokolik.

With college scholarships already lined up, Beth aims to be an English professor and yes, write a book telling her own inspiring story.

And the lesson she hopes to impart? "Not all is lost. There's always hope out there."

Starting Right, Now can always use more donations of money and time from professionals who can provide services or mentoring help.


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