Lauri Burns knows firsthand what it's like to be a troubled teen without a home. You would never know it now, but the confident, smart, strong woman who is now a Fortune 100 company executive once lived on the streets. She turned her life around and today, the woman who many have dubbed "The Teen Whisperer" helps other teens get back on track.
Burns grew up with daily beatings from her father, and she was committed to a mental institution for the criminally insane by the age of 13. By the age of 16, she had been in and out of more than 13 correctional institutions, she and was addicted to heroin and was a "known" prostitute by the age of 19. Today she is the founder of The Teen Project, a group that helps homeless youth. Her passion: helping teens who have "aged-out" of the foster care system.
Did you know that roughly one-third of the homeless people living in the U.S. are teenagers? I never realized this until I read an article about Burns and The Teen Project.
While many teens look forward to their 18th birthday with anticipation — the beginning of their lives as adults — Burns knows from experience that kids in foster care see this birthday as the end of life as they know it. For many kids, foster care is bad enough, but at least it's a place to call home. Once these kids turn 18, they are officially adults and no longer qualify for state-assisted care. Many are dropped off at the local homeless shelters by their social workers.
Burns created The Teen Project as a resource for helping these emancipated teens get their feet under them and get a real start in life. Her organization offers transitional housing, college support and street outreach services to teens living on the street across the country.
So why do they call her "The Teen Whisperer"? Those who know her say it's because she knows how to talk to teens without adding to the drama in their already drama-filled lives. She has already helped countless teens find a safe place to live and is constantly expanding her program so that she can help more.
Check out The Teen Project to learn more about Burns and find out how you can help her help homeless teens.