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Congratulations to Community Access Unlimited (CAU) in Elizabeth, New Jersey, winner of the 2016 Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Runaway and Homeless Youth Mural Contest. For the sixth year, grantees of FYSB’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Program were given the chance to win the materials to paint a mural in their facilities. A jury of FYSB staff members and young people from Child and Family Charities – Gateway Division, last year’s winning agency, picked the winner and two finalists.
Our mural represents where many youth have come from and where we are heading in the future thanks to CAU. We have all come from different backgrounds but have faced some of the same challenges. Many youth face running away from a situation, couch surfing, not having any support, abuse, neglect, and homelessness. We feel as if we are facing a brick wall and that there is no hope for the future. We were lucky enough to find CAU in the midst of our troubles. CAU has become our saving grace.
CAU has offered us stability and provides us with hope for the future. [It’s] a place where we don't have to worry about food, clothes, or being put out for the smallest mistake that we might make. For a lot of us, we also found friends amongst ourselves, and we found staff that we could really relate to and talk to about anything. CAU pushes us to be the best that we can be. They encourage us to attend school, to job-seek, and work hard so that we can succeed. CAU has provided us with different experiences and trips.
CAU is teaching us how to be leaders and how to advocate for ourselves. We are grateful to the staff at CAU and view them as being our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We wish that every youth could experience what we have—happiness, stability, and hope for the future.