Beautiful Together is partnering with RunningWorks on an urgent need: to provide safe showers to homeless youth they serve as they emerge from childhood without the support of family.

Please consider supporting this project, so that we can start making a difference right away in the lives of these children.

100% of donations to this project go directly to build the private shower facilities, which will include:

  • 1 Private shower stall for women and girls
  • 1 Private shower stall for men and boys
  • Personal hygiene supplies & towels
  • Bus passes for transportation

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Our newest Beautiful Together project is focused on working to improve the quality of life for impoverished youth in America – specifically, homeless youth who have recently cycled out of foster care and are struggling to find a home, a job, and a community. We are grateful to be partnering with RunningWorks, an organization that works hard to stop the destructive cycle of homelessness. (You can learn MUCH more in this video discussion).

One of the major things we have learned is that, as helpful as homeless shelters can be, it is often difficult for homeless youth to figure out life on the streets, to learn how shelters and feeding programs work, to get transportation to and from life-changing opportunities – and so much more. In order to break the cycle of homelessness, there needs to be access to something as simple as showers, the ability to get clean, to feel better, to stay healthy in unhealthy environments. This is difficult for homeless youth for many reasons – not just the long lines they share with adults but also repeatedly being part of environments where they may not be prepared to protect themselves as needed.

Some of the children RunningWorks assists are as young as 4 years old. Many are young teens who have left abusive or neglectful situations, a foster care system that repeatedly moved them from home to home (sometimes over ten times) for years, or they are simply kids who have made a mistake and now face the overwhelmingly daunting cycle of poverty.

We would like to supply Running Works with a set of private, portable showers and a generous supply of toiletries and towels, as well as some much-needed bus passes, so they can not only offer homeless youth showers on site, but they can also move the showers with them as they continue to grow as an organization. This relatively simply thing – clean, safe showers for homeless youth – offers them not only the dignity that we all deserve, but the opportunity to stay healthy and have the best opportunity to present themselves in a way that can dramatically change their lives. RunningWorks operates on the mentality that sometimes you need to love people before they can love themselves and you need to believe in people before they believe in themselves. We love that. We believe in that.

The cost of a portable showering system, and related necessities, will cost $9500.

If you can donate, please do. If you can help spread the word, please do.


A Personal Account: James and Xavia

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Our dynamic duo is right in the middle of this photo to the right of RunningWorks founder and executive director Meredith Dolhare. This was taken at the now-famous Charlotte Knights baseball game where James secured employment so he could join the team.

James and Xavia, 18 and 19-years-old respectively, are a wonderful example of how running works, and the RunningWorks family in action. The first day we came across this go-getter couple, they were sitting on a couch at our program for homeless and runaway youth cycling out of foster care at age 17. We asked them to join us for the program since they were simply sitting glassy-eyed and looking hopeless. Come to find out, they were on the street and starving.

James spoke for the couple since Xavia is quite shy, and his first sentence to us was, “We would love to run or walk, but we are so hungry. We have not eaten in two days. We are sleeping in the worst conditions you can imagine.”

Dangling a carrot, we told them that if they ran with us that day and took part in the life skill, we would feed them immediately afterwards—and would provide a bus pass to each of them so they did not have to walk “home”.

That day, James was insightful and lively during the program. He opened up to us on the running route telling a story of legal issues and hard luck. Both were estranged from their families. He shared freely during our life skill session, and his words hit home for many of the other youth who are often loathe opening up in front of others.

That week, we had tickets to the Charlotte Knights baseball game, which was after 6pm in the evening. At the time, James had an ankle monitor, and he was not allowed to be “out” after that time unless he was working. As a result, he secured a job at the Charlotte Knights stadium in vending so he could join us! Even though she was brand new and did not know anyone yet, Xavia met the rest of the group on time by herself, and they reunited at the ballgame. This is when we knew James and Xavia had the RunningWorks hustle. There was hope for them, and we could see it.

They returned again and again for the next two months as they struggled to keep afloat—believing that our program is so much more than running. We visited where they were sleeping one night post “family dinner”, and were shocked by their living conditions in a four-foot by six-foot unventilated storage shelter. They chose this location so that James could plug in his ankle monitor in a nearby renegade electric outlet. Even though they were both working, this was the only option they had. Showers were hard to come by, which made getting prepared for work a challenge. Somehow, these two brave souls would not only make it to work, but the RunningWorks programs and events.

We are happy to say that both are happy, healthy and reunited with their families in addition to having housing of their own for the past nine months, which RunningWorks helped them secure. The rest has been up to them! They have maintained the rent each month, groceries and several jobs between the two of them. James has not gotten into any more trouble, and is a reformed young man sans ankle bracelet. They still join us weekly pending their work schedule at our various programs. Both of them motivate others by their story, and share during group time with “real talk”.

We always say, “There are no excuses. If James can get three jobs toting an ankle monitor around, what do the rest of you have to say?”

The irony is not lost on even the elders at RunningWorks, and it gets them thinking. We are proud to call James and Xavia a successful part of the RunningWorks cog. Each week, we provide their transportation to work via bus passes. Otherwise, they are extremely self-sufficient, and the distress calls are limited.

James and Xavia have hustle. They are going to make it, they are making it—they are the embodiment of what we are attempting to achieve.

Running works.

© 2016 Beautiful Together. Beautiful Together is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.