Transition house gives teens a home

Help: Volunteers camp out to raise money for 12 Hours For The Homeless Oct. 15. (Tom Bateman/AQ)
Help: Volunteers camp out to raise money for 12 Hours For The Homeless Oct. 15. (Tom Bateman/AQ)

Two years ago Lacrisha Doubledee was a on a dangerous path. At 16 years old she was experimenting with drugs and skipping school. Things took a turn for the worse when family conflict forced Doubledee out of her home.

With no place to stay Doubledee stayed with friends wherever she could find a place to crash. When she finally found Chrysalis House, it changed her life.

Chrysalis House is a transition home for young women between the ages of 16 and 19. Residents go to school and attend skill-building workshops. They are given access to healthcare, employment opportunities and counseling. For young women at risk of homelessness, Chrysalis House is much more than a shelter—it’s a home.

“Before I moved in, I never attended school and I was into drugs like – everything,” Doubledee said. “Then I moved in and they set me up with counseling and one of the main things is you have to go to school, so I started attending school regularly,” she said.

The support and structure offered at Chrysalis House is one of the main reason’s Doubledee has been able to turn her life around. She’s since moved out and is working as a nanny while finishing up her education.

“I’m getting my grade twelve because I want to go to college to be a journalist,” she said.

Julie Gallant, the executive director of Chrysalis House, says stories like Doubledee’s are common.

“A fair amount [of residents] come from abusive backgrounds, whether emotional, physical or sexual,” she said. “So, mental health problems are usually pretty prominent as well as addictions issues and behavioural issues.”

Chrysalis House relies on federal funding, help from the United Way and fundraising events to continue to address homelessness in Fredericton.

Their biggest fundraiser is the 12 Hours for the Homeless.

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As night falls on Officers’ Square, teams of people are building cardboard tents and shacks. They’ll be relying on these makeshift shelters to protect them from the rain and the cold for the next 12 hours.

The people building them are not homeless, but are raising money to help prevent youth homelessness.

Doubledee says it’s important for people to know about this issue.

“I think it’s important for everyone to recognize and realize that there are people that struggle,” she said. “For girls 16 to 20 it’s pretty rough to be on your own because I was on my own at the age of 16, pretty much couch surfing so being here, having people recognize this is a very excellent thing for them to realize what’s going on in their city.”

Gallant says awareness is important because youth homelessness is often invisible to the public eye.

Like Doubledee, many homeless youth do not sleep in the streets. But with no permanent address, they belong to Fredericton’s “invisible” homeless population.

“A lot of these young people will couch surf, or stay with extended family, or some of them do stay on the streets but I don’t think it’s as prominent as it is for young people to just stay with friends or keep going from place to place,” Gallant said.

The event was a success with about 50 teams taking part. The money raised goes directly to Chrysalis House and helping young women like Doubledee improve their lives.

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