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Runaway programs have seen major increases in homeless youth. These youth, who live "on the street", are in very high risk situations, with few resources and virtually no support system. As a response to this phenomenon, the Wisconsin Association for Runaway Services, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Board for National and Community Service, provides a team of AmeriCorps members to provide street outreach services and mobile response teams for referrals from police departments, schools, and other youth serving agencies. The AmeriCorps members are available to youth who are homeless, runaways, or in crisis and are therefore "on the street". Members frequent areas in the community where youth congregate, such as parks, malls, convenience stores, etc. Youth are provided with hygiene packets, food vouchers, transportation vouchers, clothes, educational materials, and, most importantly, referral services to provide them with safe alternatives to the street. The members also are available to police and school personnel, by responding directly to referrals. AmeriCorps members provide services throughout Wisconsin; ensuring runaway, homeless, and youth in crisis have a strong support system and alternatives to the street.


Video courtesy Project 16:49 / Rock County

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What does serving your AmeriCorps term with WAHRS look like? The Basics...

To learn more about and/or apply to become an AmeriCorps member with WAHRS please visit: https://www.americorps.gov

Video courtesy Project 16:49 / Rock County

Three AmeriCorps service sites for Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services (WAHRS) nominated for National Runaway Prevention Month Awards

National Runaway Prevention Month Awards

This January, three host sites for AmeriCorps members with the Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services (WAHRS) were nominated for recognition as part of the National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) Awards. Over the last 12 years, WAHRS members agencies and AmeriCorps members have been partnering with The National Runaway Safeline (1-800-RUNAWAY) to provide prevention and education, raise awareness of the challenges faced by runaway and homeless youth, and take part in National Runaway Prevention Month each November.

The ceremony on January 10 recognized outstanding efforts across the nation to raise awareness about youth homelessness, with the following WAHRS host sites being nominated for awards this year:

National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) is a public awareness campaign designed to “shine a light” on the experiences of youth who have run away and youth who have experienced homelessness that too often remain invisible. It is also an opportunity to spotlight the resources available to support youth in crisis throughout the nation. As part of the campaign, youth, adults, organizations, corporations and communities nationwide work together to prevent youth homelessness. In 2023, NRS and more than 220 partners across 46 states hosted creative events, engaged with followers on social media, arranged for landmarks to be lit up green (the official color of NRPM), secured proclamations and distributed campaign materials to educate the public about youth homelessness.

WAHRS AmeriCorps member Angelica Morales, who is serving at Pathfinders in Milwaukee, reflected that, “I was inspired during the WAHRS conference presentation about November being National Runaway Prevention Month. When I came back from that I brought it up during our shelter staff meeting on how we can make our space green and to shine a light on us. From there others joined in and we ended up having a little competition amongst programs on how to make our spaces more green.” To bolster this effort, Angelica described that “I was the one who created the banners at the shelter for NRPM and the one who started to create all the educational banners throughout the years as well.”

As part of their award-winning efforts for the Excellence in Community Engagement award, the WAHRS AmeriCorps members at Home Base helped create and release a public service announcement entitled Youth on the Move 2023. The PSA combined news footage and messages from the AmeriCorps members and staff at Home Base to provide greater awareness about youth homelessness and the services that Home Base can provide to those who need them. The PSA spotlighted the Youth on the Move campaign where they would be doing across the community, with green footprints and lights outside locations supportive of assisting homeless youth, as well as yard signs and flyers put up throughout November with a QR code to access more information about services.

For additional information about the National Runaway Prevention Month Awards, visit the following resources:

Reflection by AmeriCorps Members


by: Angela Endejan

Mom and I are fighting again,
Where did I go wrong?
She's starting her next bottle of gin,
Where did I go wrong?
I just found out I am pregnant,
Where did I go wrong?
My bags are on the sidewalk,
Where did I go wrong?

A car, a park bench, a cardboard box,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I heard we are expecting snow,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I don't know how long this couch can be my bed,
Where will I sleep tonight?
My bags are all tattered and torn,
Where will I sleep tonight?

I heard that this place can help me,
Where do I begin?
They have given me a place to stay,
Where do I begin?
I need to finish my GED and get a job
Where do I begin?
My bags have a place to call home
Where do I begin?

I sign my lease next week,
Where has the time gone?
My baby gets bigger every day,
Where has the time gone?
I graduated and have a full-time job,
Where has the time gone?
My bags are no longer needed,
Where has the time gone?

About two years ago, all I wanted to know,
Where did I go wrong?
Every night I worried,
Where will I sleep tonight?
I started a new adventure wondering,
Where do I begin?
And now I sit here writing this asking,
Where has the time gone?

Without all these questions,
I could have never found the answers.

Thank you.


The author is a full-time AmeriCorps member at the Youth and Family Project in West Bend, WI who works with the Transitional Housing and Street Outreach programs. She hopes to receive both her professional counseling and alcohol and drug counseling licenses and continue to work with youth in Wisconsin.


An Outreach Tanka

by: Jenna Van Der Sande

walking all the streets
searching, looking to reach out
youth who need our help
helping our community
brings families together

A Sonnet: The Young One

by: Jenna Van Der Sande

Young one,
Insightful on the inside
Tough exterior to some
And to me she can confide

Dances like no one cares
And speaks from her heart
On paper does she dare
Declare what sets her apart

Such knowing views
For such a young girl
Wonder who or what is her muse
And what else from her can unfurl

What a wonderful youth to know
Cannot wait to see what path she'll follow


My name is Jenna Van Der Sande and I'm an Americorp for Project Youth, part of Lutheran Social Services. My area of service is in Sheboygan County and I am a first year AmeriCorps. I really enjoy working the youth and families in my area, this experience has opened my eyes and I appreciate the opportunity to serve my community. My pieces are about what our goal as an outreach team and about a youth that we service through our drop-in program that I admire.

Easier Than Not

By Erin Roemer

It's easier than not
to forget what we do
is of vast importance
to more than a few

The youth we serve
the steps we take
the compassion we give
did enough progress we make

At the end of a hard day
we question our work
Did I make a difference?
Did I erase any hurt?

Sometimes a smile
A story she confides
An inquisitive "Where were you?"
She won't let it slide

Reminds me I'm needed
On me she depends
for a listening ear, a role model
a mentor or friend

I serve to amend
one life at a time
so she may have one
more like yours and mine

It's easier than not
to stand in the distance
but service is our calling
our duty to make a difference


Author Biography: Erin Roemer is an MSW Graduate Student who resides in Brookfield, WI. Under the direction of the Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services, she serves as a Street Outreach Program worker at the Youth and Family Project, Inc. in West Bend.

WAHRS • Joli Guenther • joli@wahrs.org • 608-239-5430

Mail to:   PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901

WAHRS • Joli Guenther

Mail to:   WAHRS / PO BOX 317 / Portage, WI 53901