Promise House Puts Homeless Teens On New Track

NBC 5 awarded the non-profit $50,000 for its work with Dallas ISD

At 24-years-old, Anita Crethers can tell you a thing or two about hard times.

Her parents both had drinking problems. And at 13-years-old, Crethers came home from school to find her mother had died of a heart attack.

"That was hard," said Crethers. "I actually found out how life was not to have someone there to guard you. My dad was so grief stricken so he wasn't 100 percent there anymore."

"I didn't have anyone who wanted to take me in," said Crethers. "None of my family wanted anything to do with me. So I was basically homeless."

Crethers became pregnant. And at 14-years-old she turned to the streets of Oak Cliff. She broke into and slept in abandoned houses.

"Some [houses] I would go in and there's still furniture," said Crethers. "And sometimes the lights were still connected or the water still ran and that's where I stayed for the night. My teachers never knew I was sleeping somewhere other than home."

"I worked jobs that weren't actually supposed to hire children," said Crethers. "I tried to make money as possibly as I could to survive."

Around the same time, someone mentioned the program that would change Crethers' life forever -- Promise House in Dallas.

"They gave me a room. They gave me parenting classes," said Crethers.

Dr. Ashley Lind runs Promise House, which serves more than 5000 homeless children and young adults, ages 0-24, every year.  

"Promise House works with the teenagers who are homeless without a guardian," said Dr. Lind. "So the main goal is to get them to school and to get them the food and support they might need when they're not at school."

Promise House partners with Dallas Independent School District to operate six weekly drop-in centers for the 2,242 homeless students enrolled in Dallas ISD schools.  NBC 5, Telemundo 39 in partnership with the NBCUniversal Foundation awarded Promise House a $50,000 grant to support the drop-in program.

Children receive free counseling and packages with food that can be eaten after school. At night, Promise House counselors drive around looking for children on the streets. The agency provides temporary and permanent housing. 

Inside Wesley Inn, Crethers learned how to raise her two children, how to cook and manage a schedule.

"When I got to Promise House it started to stick," said Crethers. "I could catch my breath and I had someone to help me and say 'we're here for you. We'll help you. We know what you're going through'."

Crethers has since graduated from college and for the past year has become independent. For the first time in life, she calls the shots. 

"They continue to help," said Crethers. "Their mission is to help and they're not going anywhere 'cause their passion is to help!"

Click on this sentence to learn about Promise House.

If you are a young person in crisis, call (214) 941-8578.

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