Spectrum Youth and Family Services is hosting its annual sleep out in Burlington this Friday, in solidarity with homeless young adults in Vermont.
The first sleep out started with 44 people. Mark Redmond, executive director at Spectrum Youth and Family Services, said that number has increased significantly.
“I was shocked we had 44 who agreed to sleep out in the cold like that, and this year when you add all the students and everything it’s over 300 people,” Redmond said.
The event is virtual and Redmond will be participating.
“Man, if you are a teenager and are still trying to go to school and try to work, and this is what you did every night, it would be awful,” Redmond said.
Their goal is to raise $300,000 dollars to provide homeless and at-risk youth the services they need. Just like the new drop in center in Saint Albans that offers free lunch and dinner, showers, laundry, and mentoring.
“We are helping young people get off the street, place to live, we are feeding them, we’re helping them find a job, we’re helping them get back to school,” Redmond said.
Redmond said they aren’t sure how many teens are homeless in Vermont. “We know we have 26 beds here in the winter, and they are full,” Redmond said. “I had no idea what it was like. Now I understand how difficult it must be.”
Redmond said this experience changes your consciousness.
“Because at some point in the night you’re like tomorrow I get to sleep in my bed and I have a nice home to go to,” Redmond said.
He believes it makes you realize the stress teens face who are homeless.
“But you realize like wow if you’re out here, it’s hard to get a goodnight sleep because of the cold and the weather, but also the lack of safety, that you’re not really that safe,” Redmond said.