Teens help raise awareness of homeless youth in Rapid City

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Organizations from around the Black Hills are joining forces to help the community during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

There is a homeless epidemic in Rapid City, but there isn’t often a spotlight on homeless youth. From August -November, 361 students in the Rapid City Area School District were reported as homeless.

Anita Deranleau is McKinney-Vento coordinator with Rapid City Areas Schools helping advocate for homeless students. She says those children often go unnoticed and may develop issues later.

“Unless you know which families are homeless, you can walk right past them,” Deranleau says. “Students that are without homes will often have attendance issues. Some students will have post-traumatic stress because of what they’ve suffered through."

Jordyn Kokesh, a member of TEEN UP, said the group spent their weekend painting sidewalks for the “Paint the Town Green” project, to raise awareness about homelessness. TEEN UP consists of local students who help with charity and volunteer work around the community.

“We [painted] events that are going on the next week that help bring awareness to homelessness,” Jordyn said. “And it’s hard to tell … if they’re homeless or not by just looking at them. Because we walk in the same hallways, and we go to the same classes and do the same activities. But we really wouldn’t know anything about them.”

Cameron Kokesh, a member of the Black Hills Homeless Coalition Youth Task Force, says the group is doing as much as it can to provide support to classmates.

“I think a lot of people in this community don’t know how big of an issue homelessness is,” Kokesh says. “I go to school and I don’t really notice a lot of this - but there are ones going to school with us and on our sports teams and in our clubs. And I would just love provide as much help as we can."

Several organizations such as The HOPE Center and the Youth Taskforce, are teaming up throughout the week to raise awareness and provide essentials like food and clothing as the winter months approach.

TEEN UP member River Bulich says communicating and sharing ideas is a way to find solutions.

“There’s elementary kids …  not in homes,” Bulich says. “These things are really important to raise awareness for. And you need to get people talking about them in order to be able to find solutions, because you can’t find solutions without talking and communicating ideas."

Here is a list of events throughout the week:


The Hope Center will kick-off National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week with Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender and Police Chief Karl Jegeris reading two proclamations declaring November 11-19 as National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week and November as National Homeless & Runaway Youth Awareness Month. The Kick-Off will be held at The HOPE Center, 615 Kansas City St., Rapid City.


The HOPE Center, together with multiple community partners and agencies, will be serving hot chocolate and giving away blankets to those living in poverty or without homes to prepare them for the coming winter weather. The HOPE Center and Samaritan’s Feet, with support from Day in the Park and Black Hills Energy, will be hosting a shoe distribution giving away 250 pairs of shoes for adults (first come, first served). Both events will be at the HOPE Center, 615 Kansas City St., Rapid City.

Tuesday, Nov. 14 – “WEAR AND SHARE GREEN”

The Black Hills Homeless Coalition Youth Taskforce is asking everyone to “wear green” on Nov. 14 to bring awareness to the plight of homeless-runaway youth during National Runaway Prevention Month in November.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. – “TOGETHER AT THE TABLE – AWARENESS, COMMUNITY, UNITY”

The HOPE Center, along with member agencies of the Rapid City Collective Impact Food Insecurity Taskforce, will sponsor a hunger awareness event where those living in poverty and without homes, community leaders and decision makers can come together, share a meal of soup and bread, and build connections on a different level — at the table! The event will be held at the old Boys Club Thrift Store, 319 Third St., Rapid City (across from the Journey Museum).

Friday, Nov. 17, 5:30 p.m.– “GLOW WALK 2017”

Join the Black Hills Homeless Coalition Youth Taskforce as they raise awareness for homelessness and runaway youth during their Glow Walk 2017. The Walk begins and ends at Main Street Square. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. at Main Street Square, with the walk beginning at 6 p.m. Participants are asked to bring cold-weather gear, blankets or hygiene items as their registration fee.


To bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our friends, family and neighbors who have died on the streets or from issues related to poverty, the HOPE Center will hold a Homeless Person’s Memorial and Candlelight Vigil on Nov. 17, 7-8 p.m. at Main Street Square.

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