Former Homeless Youth Takes Action to Promote Message of Hope

Homeless Youth success story full image

The annual Scholarship of Hope competition held by Covenant House Alaska, a Family and Youth Service Bureau grantee in Anchorage, awards young people with an inspirational message.

When Forrest Vest heard about the contest, he knew exactly what he’d do to enter it. A musician and one-time homeless youth on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Forrest submitted a song about his journey through drug addiction, running away and recovery.

Forrest also knew what he wanted to do with the prize money, which he could use to pay for school or to serve his community. He wanted to help young people like him in his rural hometown.

“If I win this thing, I am not keeping a cent of the money,” he told his mother. “Whatever I have to do to help kids that are in an unfortunate situation like I was in, I’m going to do it.”

Forrest did win the scholarship. And he learned that a place to stay is the number one need for the peninsula's runaway and homeless youth. With that in mind, the For Rest Foundation was born.

Through the foundation, Forrest and his family friend Debbie Michael are raising money to establish an overnight shelter for homeless teens. Forrest also wants to open a drop-in center as a way to meet some of the basic needs of young people, such as food, clothing, and a place to hang out and stay out of trouble.

“If we give them somewhere to go, there won’t be as much room or opportunity for them to get into the things that I got into,” he says.

Listen to Forrest’s story on the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth website.

(Photo by M. Scott Moon, Peninsula Clarion)