11 News Special Report "No Place To Go"

Local agencies estimate that on any given day there are at least 300 homeless teens on the western slope. Some of these homeless teens were at one time runaways, and some are what reach advocates call throw–aways. Throw-aways are teens that have been told to leave home. 11 News was fortunate enough to catch up with a teen who used to be homeless and hear first–hand what life was like on the streets. When you look at Salem Congdon you see a happy, well dressed, bright and successful young woman. But at 15–years–old life was very different. She says she didn't care much about anything, She just wanted to party and didn't want to live by her parents rules. So Salem says she just left one day and did what she calls "couch surfing" where stay on friend's couches as long as you can. But when she had overstayed her welcome with friends she was left with no place to go. Along with having no place to stay Salem also had no food. So she did what she call "dumpster diving" in order to survive. After being homeless for month, a frightened Salem says she finally broke down. The police picked Salem up, brought her to the hospital for a check up and then called her parents. But Salem didn't go home right away, instead she went to live in California with her father but refused to follow his rules and eventually returned to the streets. Realizing she couldn't live this way forever she made a life changing decision. She started working for Americorps, got herself an apartment and is currently a mentor at the Tree House's Kids Cabana. Salem also plans to volunteer at the new Tree House Youth Shelter when it opens May 1st. Salem is using her story to help inspire other homeless teens, she hopes that they won't have to go through what she did.