BY STEVEN HICKS
The Homeless High Foundation brings the holidays to Brevard County’s homeless high school students with gifts of clothing, shoes, transportation [bikes and skateboards], school supplies and something a little extra to make the gift more personal like video games, basketballs, footballs, bracelets and cosmetics.
Tammy Burley started Homeless High in November 2013 after hearing about a junior attending Satellite High School who was living in her car in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. Burley was stunned and in awe. Homeless and still making it to class? Homeless and still making the grades? What determination. What character. How inspiring. There had to be some way she could help her.
In the two weeks after that discovery, Burley found more homeless students with the help of the Satellite High School staff. She raised over $2,000 and delivered holiday gifts to the high school front office for those students. That year Homeless High’s “Secret Santa” helped 12 students with gas money, toiletries, food, clothes, shoes and a special personal gift to make their Christmas special. Burley wanted them to know they were special and that the community, her community, our community and their community was there to help.
did you know? BREVARD COUNTY is “home”to almost 2,000 HOMELESS K-12 STUDENTS
In 2014, Burley was captivated by the story of a sophomore student who had lost his mother and was left couch hopping to have a roof over his head and be safe. He had been temporarily staying with different friends and relatives. In 2015, Burley found a girl living in a car with her aunt in Palm Bay with help from the community. The most amazing aspect of these stories is that these kids stayed in school. They mustered up the strength and determination to change the direction of their lives. Burley was amazed that these young adults were overcoming such obstacles, yet still driving their future forward. On their own, without their parents.
Brevard County is “home” to almost 2,000 homeless students in grades K-12. The statistics for homeless high school age children is difficult to determine. Many hide their situation fearing a social stigma that comes with being homeless or fear being taken into the social services system. Burley realized this age group doesn’t have a charitable organization in the area to champion their cause.
After several years of hearing story after story and trying her best to make a difference, Burley decided to turn this passion into something others could take part in. That’s when she decided to make Homeless High “real.” She wanted to share the opportunity for others to express their support, and the Homeless High Foundation was born. Burley says, “I work full time, more than full time, and my job often includes travel. Keeping the Foundation going and moving forward has been challenging. I have a fantastic group of friends, and my husband and kids have been fantastic support and helpers.” Burley tells us that her employer, Cisco Systems, has a program for employees who want to give back. “We are given 40 hours of paid leave to support our community throughout the calendar year. I use all of that and more.”
For more information visit: www.youcaring.com/homelesshighfoundation-690431
or email firstname.lastname@example.org