HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Lakeyshia Crummel is used to walking.
“It was difficult walking all over the city,” Crummel said.
It was also difficult being a 16-year-old homeless mother.
“You would never know. My friends never knew that I was going through what I went through. My dad didn’t even know because I was too ashamed to tell him,” Crummel said.
Crummel was ashamed but determined to succeed so she went back to Harrisburg High School while working, and being the single parent to her son.
“This case manager, she came into my life,” Crummel said. “She told me, ‘You need to stay away from your son’s father. He’s no good. You need to finish school and go off to college. You can still do this. I saw this flame in you that was still burning, even if it was just a flicker.'”
That case manager was from the Brethren Housing Association. Crummel is now working for the organization. It provides housing to almost two dozen families, supplies, food, and support for homeless students.
“There are millions of children across the country who are experiencing homelessness, and they may not tell you that. They could be that person that you see every day, and they’re smiling in your face,” Crummel said. “I feel like this is what I was born for, to instill hope in them and show them that it’s possible to not let their circumstance dictate their future.”
About 1.3 million homeless students are in the United States, including around 26,000 in Pennsylvania and more than 4,000 in the Midstate, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Lancaster County has the most homeless students in Central Pennsylvania with a total of 1,650. It’s also the county with the third-highest number of students who don’t have a home in the state, behind Philadelphia at 5,764 and Allegheny County at 2,922.
Dauphin County comes in second with 780, and York County is third with 753 homeless students. Cumberland County has 313, Franklin County has 269, Adams County has 231, Lebanon County has 155, Mifflin County has 49, Cumberland/Perry County has 25, York/Adams County has 25, Perry County has 23, and Juniata County has less than 10.
Children made up one-third of the homeless population in Dauphin County in 2015, according to the Brethren Housing Association.
The Brethren Housing Association needs volunteers and donations to help students get off on the right foot. You can visit them at 219 Hummel Street in Harrisburg, visit their website here, go to their Facebook page here.