According to a 2015 study led by Edward Doherty, retired VP of Community Programs at Rochester Area Community Foundation—the divide between schools and the degree of concentrated poverty, Rochester City School District (RCSD), is the poorest urban school district in New York and is the poorest of all 430 school districts in upstate New York.
“More than half (56%) of the kids in Rochester live in poverty, which represents the 3rd highest degree of concentrated poverty among any city in the U.S.” Doherty added.
The sobering statistics are major factors that stems, the population of homeless children in Monroe County.
Edison Tech’s educator Dr. Rita Carol Gaither is determined to end homelessness among Rochester’s most vulnerable and valuable residents.
Gaither’s non-profit organization, P.E.A.R.L. Ministries-(Boys Development), is designed to provide displaced or unaccompanied school aged young men (ages 16-21,) with a stable and nurturing environment that will allow them to flourish.
“We have Center for Youth and Genesee House,” Gaither points out. “However, there are not too many other places youth can go, if they don’t have a place to stay. My thing is, girls somehow can land on their feet a little easier, but what about the boys?”
The passion to help kids, who are struggling with chronic situations at home is nothing new for Gaither.
Looking back at her involvement with troubled youth, as a young educator in 1982, when students didn’t show up in class, she didn’t wait.
“I got in my car and went to their homes,” Gaither said. “And I was shock in most cases. Most of the kids didn’t have beds and if they had beds, a lot of them were mattresses on the floor, with no sheets. And after finding these things out, I went to the store and made sure they had sheets the following night. And I still continue this practice today, because students need their basic needs met, including clothing, healthy food, and shelter,” she said. “Even with 3 kids of my own, with only 3 bedrooms, when kids needed a place to stay, I brought them home.”
P.E.A.R.L. Development is in the process of buying two houses, each has at least six bedrooms that will be modified to house young men, who are homeless.
Some of the services that will be provided to these young leaders include:
• Free room and board and daily meals
• Self-development and leadership skill building
• Group and individual therapy as needed
• Community service and outreach programs
• Advocacy and networking connections (for housing and job placement)
“We are going to keep them until they graduate and don’t drop kick them once they graduate,” Gaither said. “You got to transition them and work with them.” “So, we’re not going to wait any longer, we’re just going to do it,” she added. “We’re going to be in touch with Habitat for Humanity, Urban League Youth build, Mayor Lovely Warren and her appointed assistant Allen Williams, who does the education initiative for the mayor’s office and many other organizations and institutions that are fighting against Rochester’s homeless epidemic among children.” To learn more visit the website: http://www.pearlministriesinc.com/founder.html