Current weather

  • Overcast
  • 57°
  • Comment

Vigil shines light on issue of homeless teens

Posted: November 13, 2012 - 11:14pm  |  Updated: November 14, 2012 - 9:26am

About 35 people stood in a half circle in the snow and dark in front of 19-year-old Toree Marcano as she sang about the time she spent homeless.

“When the rain is pouring in on me and the wind is blowing you down, I would do it all to help you out — to make you feel my love,” she sang at the Candlelight Vigil for Homeless Youth on Saturday in Soldotna’s Farnsworth Park.

Love, the Kenai resident said, was the one thing she needed most during the three months she spent in her car last winter, more than food or warmth.

“You need someone to say that they are there for you,” she said.

Marcano’s story is not an isolated case, said Kelly King, homeless liaison for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

By the end of the school year last year, King said 301 adolescents were enrolled in KPBSD’s Student’s in Transition Program for Homeless Children and Youth.

This year already, King said 145 adolescents are enrolled in the program, and if the program continues to grow at that rate, she said it will likely break 300 again.

Their normal range is 200 to 250 students, she said.

Debbie Michael and her husband, Dave, have been organizing the vigils for three years now to raise awareness about homeless adolescents on the Kenai Peninsula. But, despite high enrollment in KPBSD’s program, Michael said it is still a relatively unknown issue.

“It’s kind of crazy,” the Soldotna resident said. “I think it’s just the demographics. Just because we’re more rural and spread out and don’t have a city hub, they’re still around.”

While Michael said the issue is still in the dark, some community members are aware, King said.

“It’s hard to measure tangible outcomes, but I do think awareness is increasing in general through out the community,” she said. “We’ve had a lot more individuals and business stepping up to try and assist where they can.”

Also, the For Rest Fund — a fund to raise money to build a teen shelter on the Peninsula — has grown by thousands, Michael said.

The fund started with $500 in 2010. Now it has grown to about $5,200, Michael said.

Marcano’s story, however, has a happy ending.

She now has a house in Kenai and she bought a new car. She also is expecting a baby.

“It’s a success story,” she said. “Everything’s better now.”


Dan Schwartz can be reached at

  • Comment

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
shadowmt 11/14/12 - 10:15 am
some not so homeless

Let me start with I know that there are a lot of truly homeless kids and adults in our area and my heart goes out to them.

On the flip side of the coin, there a lot of those kids (13 to 18 age group) that are homeless by choice because the don't like following the rules at home. They have gotten to the point that they demand respect before they learn how to show it. Many of them do have a home they can go back to and be welcome in if only they would just suck up a little pride. When I was growing up these type of kids were called freeloaders, now they call them homeless.

northernlights 11/17/12 - 09:46 am
I'm a little confused

If someone who knows homeless kids or have experienced this themselves, help me to understand. If kids are under 17, why are they homeless? Where are the parents, why are they not being held responsible? I honestly dont understand why any child is homeless. If its from abuse, then the parents must be held accountable, and are they? These kids have no relatives, how did they get here? Like I said, if someone can give me these answers I would appreciate it. thanks

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 11/17/12 - 12:25 pm
Two ideals reflected here.

The first ideal is the continued acceptance of OUR Moral decline into a society that now Believes the "Have it your way," thinking, and the second ideal is as this weeks Clarion poll has a choice in "It's easier if someone else does it."
When the family unit breaks down due to morals being removed then people suffer. People also suffer even when morals are followed to a degree. As i well know and have done in abandoning morals in the past which has caused much suffering and failure in relationships.
The thing is this, it can be stopped, but people have to work hard at it and it's not gonna be eazy to replace the desires of self for caring for others, even family.
It's my relationship with Christ that helps me to go Foreward one second at a time in this battle we all fight, because i tried it on my own and even at 6'4" 290 i can't get-r-done alone.
My thought is that this is due in part to people wanting it their own way which results in a lack of caring for even family and thus we continue to see the decline in the family structure that the Govt. actually helps promote at every level of society.

Luvflyfishing 11/17/12 - 05:38 pm

Watchman on the wall.
Thank you very much for your post.
It should be inspiring to all who read it
I know it has inspired me.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 11/17/12 - 10:24 pm
Govt promotes this stuff

When the govt. makes it more profitable for girls to live of welfare and child support rather than marrying the dads and it's at an epidimic stage for babies out of wedlock because of the free money, we ALL have a problem.
When kids are told that they don't have to listen or obey their parents and kids are allowed to abuse their parents, then we ALL have a problem.
Everything is upside down in regard to relations at every level do to the govt. pushing of the Fundamental Change to believe in. Obama was not the first to start this trend, it started when the govt. was allowed to remove prayer and the pledge from the schools and any mention of the True God and his son Jesus which is the ONLY Fundamental changer that will last and truly change relationships if allowed to do so in peoples lives. Even those of us that know the truth can & will stumble and fall as i have testified too, but we don't have to stay down and continue in the pain of those falls if we only look up to our only Hope for help in our times of need.
Every day we see the consiquences of our removal of God from our lives and we wonder why all the troubles at every turn constantly bombarding us in the local, national and world news.
Some times you get to have it your way, and this issue of homeless kids and parents that either don't care or are tired of fighting against the govt. and out of whack laws is just one of the results of people making the wrong choices fulfilling desires of self, more than desires of others leading to the Good of all society from a strong family unit.
It pays to do it the Governments way now days, Financially that is, but not morally or personally.
What are we gonna do to stem this tide of self seeking distruction of our society as well as all the worlds Families?
What a mess we have created for our selves with the Governments help in paying for this attitude all the way down to the depths of dispare for Billions of people.

Allen 11/18/12 - 09:08 pm
Here's Why

Young people in this area are homeless because their families are homeless, or because their family moved away and left them behind, or because their parents are mentally ill or drug addicts and can't take care of them, or because they ran away from home (often an abusive home), or because their parents kicked them out for whatever reason.

Their parents aren't being held accountable because our local agencies won't do anything about it.

I have had experience with homeless teens and it's heart breaking. For example, one young girl's parents decided to "shun" her because of their extreme religious beliefs. She hadn't done anything wrong, but now had no place to live. Bless the family who took her in.

Hard-hearted comments and moralizing such as above -

"When I was growing up these type of kids were called freeloaders, now they call them homeless"
"When kids are told that they don't have to listen or obey their parents and kids are allowed to abuse their parents" (blah blah blah)

don't help the situation.

I encourage everyone to do what they can. Instead of complaining and blaming, pitch in and help.

Back to Top


Please Note: You may have disabled JavaScript and/or CSS. Although this news content will be accessible, certain functionality is unavailable.

Skip to News

« back

next »

  • title
  • title
  • title
My Gallery


  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback