UPDATE 1: 112 youth without a stable living situation were found, served, and Build Our Center announced their new location - February and Beyond Press Release

Sept 4th, 2009, I had the honor of helping Meredith do the final cleaning at her shop. At 11:13 am she locked the sparkly red door for the last time and I took this picture with 240 glorious pixels in those early smartphone days. I did not predict the hard journey she was about to undertake and am so happy that she has emerged with joy and with stronger community leadership. - from RSN Clerk Jay Kolbet-Clausell

Meredith Tanzer La Bussola Door

Meredith’s Story

As I wrap up details and put together the puzzle of the Homeless Youth Count, I feel so grateful.

A few years back, I experienced what I refer to as the great depression...I lost my Friend, My Business, my apartment and then my Mother in short order. I was sued and won a huge lawsuit that put me into great debt. I moved to the Wilderness and let depression really take over my life. I was miserable. I didn't know how to reach out and many people didn't know how to react. I learned who was important to me. I learned that the number was much smaller than I assumed. You know the saying the "light at the end of the tunnel"...well I could not even see the tunnel. It was the worst feeling I ever felt. I seriously contemplated suicide, every waking moment.

Meredith Tanzer La Bussola

Some friend took me to my family as an intervention of sorts. I let them love on me and I cried with my nieces. My family heaped love on me they helped me survive. I came back with a renewed focus and passion for life. When I was ready, I realized I needed to be around people who I could just lend my time to. Who didn’t just want things from me. I had no care about being thanked just the thought that I could help in some way lifted me up.

I went to Monica at Nevada Youth Empowerment Project. They were preparing for the Homeless Youth Count. Something I had never heard of or really considered. However, after having a shop downtown I knew it was a real issue as those kids would hang out in my store. I made some flyers and picked up some donations. I stood out in front of the Cal Neva chain smoking and deciding if I should go in... or just forget about it and go back into my hole. I met a kid as scared as me outside. We chatted, I grabbed my balls and went in.

There were a ton of donations and kids all around. I felt so good. I got super anxious and I left. In 2014, I got much more involved. I helped secure more donations and helped foster new relationships and helped shine a light on a system for young people that wasn’t isn’t working. The day before the count in the middle of sorting a zillion donations outside with some rad kids I got a call that my Stepdad passed away. He and I weren’t close until my mother passed on and in the last few months of his life I cared for him in a way I had never done for another person. During the count I all could do was think of him. My emotions were right on the surface that whole time. It didn’t help that I hadn’t slept.

I met so many kids that changed my constitution there was one set of kids 4 and 6 who had never spent more than 2 nights in the same place. That made my heart break. I met kids with shitty parents. I met kids with health issues with no means of help. I met kids who refused to follow rules. I met gay kids kicked out for being who they are. I met kids that spent 4 hours looking for the perfect coat so they wouldn't “look” homeless. I learned that Homeless people are just in a situation not a lifestyle. That for many they just need some help building a foundation of support.

Homeless Youth Count

Each year my drive to help these kids gets stronger and stronger. I won’t forget them, I will work hard to make changes in the programs and services offered to them. I appreciate that I have a voice that people sometimes listen to. I appreciate that I know so many kick ass people who help. I have an exceptional family and I try to honor them. I appreciate Monica DuPea for just including me and giving me projects and pushing me to make this count what it has grown into today. She really does so much for young women but she seriously saved me from me.

I will push harder because whatever I go thru is so much easier than living on the streets, fending for my life and being scared there might not be a future or people that love me. So…. Thank you. Really deep glorious delicious thanks to all that do good things you inspire people like me and make an impact you might never know.

About the Author

Community Builder, Artist, and works at Build Our Center

email: meredith.box@gmail.com

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