Norcross, GA, May 10, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Zach Bonner, 11-year-old recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, will technically begin the third leg of his walk from Tampa, Florida to Washington, D.C. on Monday morning, May 11, at the Georgia state capitol. But the real walk began on Thursday, May 7, with a visit to some of the beneficiaries of his quest, the formerly homeless children and youth of Gwinnett’s Rainbow Village.
In November 2007, Zach started his trek from “My House to the White House” to demonstrate how one person can raise awareness of the fastest growing group among homeless populations—children—and make a difference in the battle to break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence, a battle to which Rainbow Village has been quietly dedicated for 18 years. Started as an outreach ministry providing transitional housing to homeless families, Rainbow Village gradually expanded its scope of services beyond the offering of safe homes to include individual case management, financial and personal life-skills training for adults and an after-school program focused on providing academic assistance, emotional support, and supervision in a community of staff and volunteers from every sector: faith-based groups, corporate initiatives, civic clubs, municipal leaders, and educational institutions. In the next three to five years, Rainbow Village will expand in another way, building an all-inclusive campus in Duluth, Georgia, where housing, services, and administration exist in community together.
Zach’s walk will end on July 11, but his passion and the work of his partners, the Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness (www.gahomeless.org) and Rainbow Village (www.RainbowVillage.org) will not. They and a network of organizations statewide will continue the work to raise awareness, change perception and policy with respect to the homeless in Georgia (which ranks 49th of 50 in planning and preparedness in dealing with the issue), and stop the cycle of homelessness in families through the provision of a full range of support services integral to returning those families to self-sufficiency.
Since 1991, over 200 families with over 500 children have passed through Rainbow Village’s one- to two-year program and succeeded with a less than 10% recidivism rate, armed with the emotional support and life-skills necessary to not only get on their feet but stay there and give a helping hand to other families. Sondra Blue, Director of the Children and Youth Program at Rainbow Village, should know—she and her two sons are among those families who have done just that.
How can you help to eradicate youth homelessness? By writing letters and sending them to Zach via his website (www.LittleRedWagonFoundation.com), joining the GCEH in advocating for the changes in policy we need, or donating your time and money to support one of the many Rainbow Village programs that directly serve the most vulnerable and most tragic of the homeless, our children. Visit the websites to learn how you can begin to help end the blight of homeless children today.