Last month, members of the Lazydays Employee Foundation were moved by the courage and determination of six youths during the Homeless Youth Forum. Presented by the Homeless Coalition of Florida’s Hillsborough County, this first-of-its-kind forum raised awareness for teen homelessness and youth in need.

According to a press release, the panel of homeless and previously homeless youth consisted of Amanda George, Laura Harris, Ronnieshia Hicks, Christopher Mack, Traci Waltz and Alexandria Williams, who have all been helped by the Lazydays Homeless Youth Program. Thanks to the partnership of Eckerd and the Lazydays Employee Foundation, this program is able to provide services that help youth with accessing housing, educational opportunities, medical testing and treatment, financial aid, employment and other basic needs.

One of the highlights of the forum was when Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 1351 that provides homeless youth, who are at least 16 years of age, the ability to get their birth certificates, necessary for identification, health care, school and work. This bill was drafted by students at Armwood High School, and sponsored by Senator Jack Latvala along with Representatives Rich Glorioso and Jim Frishe.

The press release stated that as of last year, there were 6,503 homeless youth in Florida and about 200 unaccompanied homeless youth in Hillsborough County who are under the age of 18. Although there are programs, such as the Lazydays Homeless Youth Program, that provide unaccompanied homeless youth with the resources and assistance they need to escape homelessness, more housing and other resources are needed. By sharing their struggles and experiences, the six panelists expressed the importance of giving homeless youth more opportunities to become independent, contributing members of society.

The forum concluded with Wheels of Success awarding a car to Sean McCoggle Jr., another youth assisted by the Lazydays Homeless Youth Program. The Lazydays Employee Foundation and the Triad Foundation provided the financial support for the car repairs and first-time auto tag fees to help Sean get on the road to success.

For more information, visit http://www.LazydaysEmployeeFoundation.org.