James, a high school student here in Bellevue, walked out of school last month, and he didn’t want to go back. Just an hour prior, he found out that he had failed his chemistry test — the second test he failed in a week.
James felt defeated. It’s not that he didn’t study. In fact, James is naturally gifted in math and science, just like his mom. However, lately, he has had trouble focusing on his schoolwork.
His family has been struggling. Things started spiraling downward when his dad was unexpectedly deported at the beginning of last year. His mom was suddenly the sole provider for the family. Losing the support of their father took a big hit on the family’s already struggling finances and mental health. His mom was not earning enough to keep the family current on all their bills, and they ended up falling behind on rent. James, his mom, and two younger sisters had to leave their apartment and move in with family friends.
It’s hard to focus on an empty stomach. James shared that lately, there hasn’t been enough food in the fridge. The night before that chemistry test, his mom was working late, and there wasn’t enough food for James and his sisters.
James knew that his mom would be visiting the food pantry the next day, so he filled his sister’s plates, ate what was left, and went to bed hungry. He went to school even hungrier the next morning.
In addition to experiencing food insecurity, living with another family and sharing a small space made it difficult for James to find a quiet corner to focus on schoolwork. Failing two tests put his grades at risk. As a junior, this school year means everything to James. He has big goals to graduate and go to college to study Sports Medicine.
James doesn’t blame his mom or dad. He knows they both are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. With his dad in another country and two little sisters to help care for, James is also feeling the weight of the world.
Thanks to our caring community, we were able to provide James with the support he needed.
James and his mom were referred to the Bellevue Family Hub. The Hub is Bellevue LifeSpring’s family resource center created in partnership with the Bellevue School District. Thanks to the support of our caring community, our team was able to help move the family into their own apartment again. We provided the security deposit, first month’s rent, and two months of future rent – allowing the family the time to get back on their feet without falling further behind.
In addition to rental assistance, James and his family also received grocery store food vouchers. James shared how he feels encouraged and happy to be able to go to the local grocery store and pick out fresh food that keeps his brain fueled. He also has his own room again with a desk so he can study. Last week, he aced his chemistry test.
James’ story is not unique. There are 452 Bellevue students currently experiencing homelessness – an alarming rise from the 252 students reported at this time last year. This is just the reported number. We know there are more due to a lack of self-reporting.
Bellevue students experiencing homelessness can be in situations where they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. These students may live in doubled-up housing like James, or in motels, homeless shelters, transitional housing, or domestic violence shelters. They may be living in cars, parks, or other public spaces. They may be living in youth shelters or temporary foster care placement. Regardless of the details, unstable housing has severe consequences for children.
Give where you live and invest in your community today to help move students like James from homelessness to stability.