Youth advocate EJ Velez selflessly shares his own personal experience with homelessness and the challenges he faced navigating systems in an effort to educate the public and ensure youth receive proper support and care they need to succeed. As a college senior, EJ balances school work with his activism. He serves on the National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board, as a Youth Catalyst Team Consultant for Youth Collaboratory and is a Youth Consultant to National Network for Youth (NN4Y).
Setting and MaintainingBoundaries During The Holidays
Setting and Maintaining Boundaries During the Holidays
This week, many Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday symbolized by family, friends, and food. Also, traditionally, it is a day to express gratitude. Over the next several weeks, people will recognize other holidays, from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa, and with these holidays, there may be additional family get-togethers.
The holidays can spark a range of emotions. There may be moments of happiness and joy, and also times of stress and anxiety. Some of that stress might be rooted in family conflict and the challenges of spending extended time with relatives – particularly if you feel as though they don’t accept who you are.
To help protect your mental health, set boundaries and communicate these personal limits to others. Making your expectations clear helps in two ways: it establishes what behavior you will accept from other people, and it establishes what behavior other people can expect from you.
There are five types of boundaries: physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, and financial. For the sake of the holidays and the anticipated family gatherings, some of the physical and emotional boundaries that may be helpful include:
Hugs and Kisses – Touching might be uncomfortable for you, and therefore, you might want to share with others that you prefer they respect your personal space and avoid hugging and kissing you.
Face Masks – We are still at risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, so you may choose to mask up for indoor celebrations.
Conversation Topics – If there is a triggering topic or a subject you are uncomfortable talking about, consider letting people know what is “off limits” for you. If guests steer clear of a potentially uncomfortable topic, that might ease anxieties and lighten the mood.
Once boundaries are set, how do you uphold them? Some effective approaches include:
Use “I” Statements – When approaching difficult conversations, such as why you have created a specific boundary or explaining when someone has crossed your boundary, we suggest using “I” statements. For example, you could say, “I feel uncomfortable talking about this and would appreciate if you do not bring it up again.” Avoid using language about what the other person has done, as this can make the other person feel defensive and become closed off.
Enjoy Alone Time – Forced socialization can be emotionally and physically exhausting. It’s important to support yourself by finding time to decompress. This could be taking a walk, napping, reading a book, or listening to music on your own.
Use Your Support System – Will there be someone with you who you trust and can provide mutual support? If so, lean on this person. If not, use other support systems that might be a call or text away, such as friends, a family member, crisis counselor, sponsor, or the National Runaway Safeline.
The National Runaway Safeline is here to help. Each year, NRS connects thousands of young people with critical resources and provides non-directive, non-judgmental support. Call or chat anytime, 24/7. You are not alone.
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As Advocates for Children in northwest Georgia celebrates the organization’s 40th anniversary, the team takes pride in their countless accomplishments, including client success stories, new and expanded programs and the purchase and renovation of their new headquarters where all prevention, education and advocacy programs are now under one roof.
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Avenues for Youth recognizes that while most youth experiencing homelessness have faced trauma, they are each unique. They have unique needs, experiences, abilities and aspirations. Each individual is on a personal journey through homelessness and, hopefully, on a path to a bright future.
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Our October volunteer of the month is Claudia V. Claudia is a dedicated paralegal based in New York City (NYC), where she resides and works. Her passion for continual learning shines through her proactive approach to attending court cases beyond her immediate involvement, seizing every opportunity to enhance her knowledge and skills. She will also tell you that she’s equally excited about being a true NYC-foodie, and thinks that food is one of the greatest things NYC has to offer. Though she has a tough time deciding, her favorite cuisines are Italian and Mediterranean.
The National Runaway Safeline’s (NRS) volunteers selflessly share their time and talents to support youth in crisis. For Ashley, our July Volunteer of the Month, volunteering with NRS is personal
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For young people facing homelessness, schools offer stability, support, and a gateway to essential services and resources. Schools not only serve as safe spaces for these individuals today but also as vehicles for providing our youth with opportunities for a brighter and more promising future through education.
Compass Charter Schools is a virtual, independent study public charter school serving thousands of scholars TK-grade 12 in California. The McKinney Vento Program at Compass offers a multitude of resources for scholars and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. This program ensures that children and youth experiencing homelessness are protected with the rights to enroll or stay in school, even when housing becomes uncertain.
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Since its inception in 2010, more than 7,000 youth and families in Los Angeles County have benefitted from Sanctuary of Hope’s (SOH’s) prevention and stabilization services and activism and advocacy activities. We are thrilled to have SOH as part of the NRPM 2023 community and look forward to seeing all that they do in November and beyond. For more information about SOH, visit thesoh.org/.