As for many, Harriet Tubman is an inspiration for everyone at Hearts & Homes. In her memory, we opened the Harriet Tubman Emergency Shelter in a targeted attempt to reduce the number of African-American young men being incarcerated in a lock-up, lock-down, detention center (juvenile jail) when they pose no serious threat to the community while awaiting a court hearing.
The youth that are placed at the Harriet Tubman shelter are referred to us by the Department of Juvenile Services. Hundreds of young men from across the state, amounting to thousands of days, have stayed at our shelter where they have received residential and supportive services.
Consistently, after being placed in our care, most of the young men went home or to a community based program or facility like the group homes we operate. It is clear everyday that believing in these young men, giving them the tools create opportunities for themselves, and supporting them in a home-like environment rather than locking them up, helps them get themselves back on the right track.
We call the shelter our “Over Ground Railroad to Freedom,” even Justice.
Ours is a living tribute to Harriet Tubman’s legacy as we celebrate now and for years to come, her courage and self-sacrifice, which led thousands to freedom. Ours is to lead thousands of youth to the freedom perhaps otherwise denied to them; to learn, to grow, to mature, and to become responsible adult citizens of the community. Ours is to provide a safe, secure, and disciplined shelter home; an opportunity to realize their potential and dreams. Ours is to purposefully interrupt the first stop on the train to criminalization – incarceration prior to juvenile court hearings of those who are not a threat to the community. Ours is to put them on a train to a bright, productive future. Yours is to help us keep that train on the right track. Bless you, Rex Smith