Local homeless youth continues to strive for the best despite harsh circumstances.
By Brian W. Carter
Sentinel Staff Writer
It is a hard-knock-life for a lot of people out in the streets of L.A. There are so many faces with so many stories; it’s enough to break your heart. Bobby Whiten has experienced hard times in the streets but continues to strive on.
“I was sleeping in my car,” said Whiten, “until my car got towed.” He would then ping-pong between living on the streets and motels until he eventually ended up at a temporary state facility affiliated with California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).
“It’s actually called the Home Agency,” said Whiten, “it’s contracted through DCSS,” which took the young and homeless orphan off of the streets for a while. Whiten had been waiting on dorm residency pending his acceptance to college.
Unfortunately, the home agency asked him to leave within a week for unknown reasons. His luck would continue south when due to a technicality, the college wouldn’t admit him this semester.
This landed Whiten back on the street looking for a place to rest his head. He eventually came into contact with Bettye Anderson, an advocate for children and families, and brought Whiten to a DCSS event.
Whiten, a musician, played his guitar and he performed at the event telling his story through a song. Whiten, through Anderson, would get a chance to voice his concerns with heads of the DCSS at a meeting.
“I told them, ‘you’ve got to follow up with people”, said Whiten, “I’ve been homeless for a very long time.'” He stressed that the DCSS needs to go beyond “poli-ti-can” and actually make sure efforts are being made to help homeless youth.
He has managed to find shelter with friends and other establishments, most recently with Shields for Families (SFF), a non-profit organization that provides services geared towards youth and families.
Whiten had to drop out of school to find a job to support him. The SFF is serving as a temporary home until he can go back to school or find a permanent residence.
Whiten will continue to press on in his efforts to get an education and find a home for himself. He also encourages youth in his position to be strong and to follow some simple advice.
“Make sure you’re honest and upfront,” said Whiten, “because people in the system will try to use anything negative against you. ” He stated that telling the truth about your past is the best route to go when living within the homeless care circuit.
He also stressed the importance of getting an education as a means to getting off the street. “Persevere, make sure you go to school,” said Whiten, “at the end of the day, all the people at DCSS, if they’re good or bad, they’re going back home with their families.”
He continued, “You got to make sure that you establish something for yourself, so that one day you can say home and you can actually mean it. You don’t have to worry about nobody coming to tell you to leave.”
Whiten is a strong young man who intends on getting his education and a home for himself. As he said, himself, “life gives you lemons, learn how to make lemonade…so you strawberries, make sure you make strawberry-lemonade.”
For more information on the California Department of Child Support Services, you can visit the website at www.childsup.ca.gov/ or call toll free at (866) 223-9529. For information on Shields For Families you can visit their website at www.shieldsforfamilies.org/ or call ph (323) 242-5000.