Local nonprofit partners with Wake schools to combat homelessness
Posted October 4, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Three years ago, Dyretta Smith and her son were homeless.
"I got laid off from my job, and when I got laid off from my job, everything started to fall apart," said Smith.
One of her biggest challenges was keeping her then-11-year-old son engaged in school.
"I was determined, and he was determined," Smith said. "He's such a smart little boy. I was not going to let the things that happened in our life get him off track."
For many, the face of homelessness might be someone on the street begging for money or someone sleeping on a park bench.
But there's a side of homelessness that's not so noticeable.
PLM Families Together, a nonprofit founded in 1980 as Pan Lutheran Ministries, helps homeless families with housing and other services.
It gave Smith and her son a fresh start.
"When your child goes to school, your child doesn't know who else is in that classroom who might not have a place to sleep when they go home at night," said PLM Families Together Executive Director Beth Bordeaux.
The group works with the Wake County Public School System to keep children in school despite what else is happening in their lives.
"This is not a personal problem. This is a community problem," said Bordeaux.
PLM Families Together is currently working with 120 families in Wake County, but it has 223 families on its waiting list.
Yolanda Davis, Wake schools' lead social worker, says there are currently 2,465 homeless students in classrooms and that the number is growing.
"We make sure that they are fed," Davis said. "We make sure that they have clothing for school and school supplies."
Smith is now back on her feet with a full-time job and her own apartment, and she even volunteers with PLM Families Together.
Her son is now a ninth-grade honor student at a Wake County high school.
"I've been through a lot of things in my life, so this right here really lets me know that this is my calling and this is what I'm here for," Smith said. "This is what I'm here for."