SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's hard to believe, but did you know the main reason young adults are living on the streets is because of an unsafe situation at home. It's a problem, the folks at Rare Breed in Springfield deal with every day.
It's a problem, they believe, people need to realize is happening in their own backyard.
Jenny Reynolds is a youth worker with Rare Breed. "There's a big myth in the community that youth are not homeless and or at-risk and that's just not the case," she says.
Every night, Reynolds says, the center sees between 45 and 80 youth a night. They're young adults, ages 13 to 21.
And, they gather at Rare Breed Monday through Friday. The center is closed on weekends.
"We're talking about kids. We're talking about children. Children," Reynolds stresses.
For some, it's an opportunity for help and to eat their only meal for the day.
Rare Breed is a youth outreach center for homeless and at-risk youth, under the umbrella of The Kitchen.
Aside from a hot meal, the facility offers showers, laundry facilities and emergency clothing, among other things.
They're amenities most people would take for granted. But not 18 year old Blake Woods.
When he was just 16, he says, a family conflict forced him on the streets.
"When I initially got kicked out, I was living on the south side of town. Typically where I would go to sleep, was at a park with an awning or something.
He says, he was always hungry.
For the last year and a half though, Rare Breed has helped him get back on his feet. "I got off the streets about a month and a half ago."
It's something, Reynolds tells us, they've done for hundreds of young adults, like Woods. She says, until the community becomes more aware of the problem, the cycle will continue. "Maybe you'll see a sign holder occasionally and typically it's an older person. But, where do you think those people started from? They didn't just turn 60 and suddenly they fly a flag on the side of the road, begging for money. They had to start somewhere."
That's why, Reynolds tells KOLR10, It's important to reach these kids at a young age and teach them different, less hazardous skills.
"No one wakes up and says-- I want that life. That's not the way it happens."
It's something, she, along with other youth workers work hard to do. Ultimately, help them get back on their feet and get them off the streets.
So far this year, Rare Breed has had 3,915 visits from youth in the area.
In 2015 and 2016, the number of visits reached near 12,000. From 3 to 7 every day, the facility is open for emergency situations
Youth can make appointments for things, like housing, during the afternoons.
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