After school, senior William Beasley slings his large black backpack over his shoulders and walks Washington Street.

It’s not because he’s avoiding homework or chores.

You’ll see Will in town because has no place to call home.

“If there’s anyone I know that I can hang out or chill out with just to be out of the cold, then I usually go with them. If not, then I start making phone calls … to see what I can do for the day,” he said.

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“If I don’t find anything to do — it’s only happened a couple of times — I’ll usually just chill out in town. Although, now, it’s too cold for that, so I don’t know what I would do.”

One night in early October, Will slept outside near the CVS.

“After that, it hasn’t had to happen again,” he said.

“I’ve actually had a couple of situations where, with the police, I’ve been followed around because it just looks as if I am doing something,” he said.

He is doing something: surviving.

Getting here

Will left his father’s home over moral disagreements Jan. 4, 2015.Will said his father worked a lot out of the county, so he and his brother had to help raise their youngest brother.He said he needed to get out and learn how to be an adult before having to leave when he turned 18. Will said he knew he was going to have to leave eventually because his father had told him and his brothers that once they turned 18, they would be on their own.

His father let him go when he was 17.

He found shelter in a friend’s home. But a couple of months later, his friend’s mother could no longer allow him to stay with them because they were in Section 8 housing, which limits the number of people in a household.

“I just kind of bounced. Wherever I ended up that night, I would see if I could stay there,” he said.

After a couple of days, the high school caught wind of his situation.

Assistant Principal Angie Evans and English teacher Alice Mannix helped him get the resources he needed to live on his own, including his birth certificate and Social Security card.

Mannix noticed Will’s glasses sliding down his nose to where he couldn’t see through them. Will didn’t have health insurance, so Mannix suggested the Lions Club.

In December, the club gave him a new pair.

Mannix and Evans also helped him get a job as a monitor on one of the special education buses. For about an hour after school every day, Will rides a bus from Brown County Intermediate School.

He makes about $9 a shift, which he uses to buy food when he needs it.

He’s also started a job at Brown County Health & Living Community, pouring drinks, handing out meals and helping clean up.

Evans also modified his school day. He is allowed to arrive to first period late and leave seventh period early because of his jobs. He also has an extended study hall so he can complete his AP biology homework, since he isn’t guaranteed computer access every night.

Beasley is enrolled in Advanced Placement biology, calculus and chemistry. He takes an online economics course using the high school’s computer lab.

His grade-point average has always been better than a B, but this semester has made achieving that more difficult.

“This semester in particular my GPA has probably dropped because things have become more difficult just with getting to school every day,” he said. “But before that, I don’t think my GPA ever went below 3.3.”

Mannix helped him fill out his college application. Starting in June, he’ll participate in the Indiana University Groups Scholar Program, which provides financial aid.

Will wants to study chemistry.

“I really like knowing how things work,” he said.

“He’s not cutting himself any slack, in spite of, boy oh boy, what a legitimate reason to give himself some slack. But, no, he doesn’t,” Mannix said.

“I think that really speaks to his desire to have a distinctly different life than what he had.”


Recently, one of Will’s friends moved into a Nashville apartment, where he can go if he has nowhere else. But it’s not a home.“I still kind of float, because I don’t necessarily have a place that I can say, ‘I live here,’” he said.A couple days a week, he has been invited to stay with the family of one of the high school custodians.

Family friends let him store his belongings in their spare bedroom, and he can stay there sometimes. But that is difficult to do when the home is 30 minutes from school and he cannot ride the bus because of his monitor job on a different route.

Last semester, he waited until 12:30 a.m. for a ride from one of the home’s occupants, after they were done working. But that created more issues: “I couldn’t get up in the mornings. I have to stay in town more so I can actually go to bed at a decent time,” he said.

One of his biggest needs has been food. His friend with the apartment works at a restaurant and eats at work, so there are not many groceries there.

He recently learned that Mother’s Cupboard moved into town from Bean Blossom, and he’s been using that resource.

But he still needs help with food at other times during the day, along with clothing, basic medical supplies like ibuprofen and keeping his cellphone turned on, Mannix said.

Since Will’s stomach is sensitive, he sometimes cannot eat the food at school so he would like to eventually have access to food he can use to make his own lunches along with food for after school and on weekends.

Will does not have a driver’s license or vehicle, so he also struggles to get places he can’t walk to, Mannix said.

Looking ahead

Beasley keeps in contact with his mother. For Christmas, she helped him get necessities for his dorm room, like quilts.He is unable to live with her due to financial reasons, he said.“We’re not necessarily unbelievably close, but she’s still someone I can go to if I need to talk about something,” he said.

About returning to his father’s home, “I think that bridge has been burned,” Will said.

“The last thing I heard from my dad was on my 18{sup}th{/sup} birthday. I got a message that said, ‘Congratulations. You made it to the adult world.’”

He’s looking forward to starting college in June. He credits Mannix with getting him into the IU Groups program.

“I don’t think I would have gotten into IU if she hadn’t sat right next to me and helped me the whole time,” he said.

Mannix did it because she believes in him.

“I think he’s going to be a tremendous success in his life,” she said.

That’s what Will wants, too.

“My goal in life is to do better than my parents did. I know that if I don’t keep with it, that my kids are going to have to deal with the same kind of problems,” he said.

How to help

Anyone who wishes to help senior William Beasley can drop off items at Brown County High School’s office or by calling 812-988-6606 to organize a pickup.

He wears XL shirts, underwear, socks, jackets and sweatpants, and size 42×38 jeans. He has a prepaid cellphone through Straight Talk Wireless; donations are welcome to keep it turned on.

Homeless student stats

Homeless students are four times more often to get sick as non-homeless children.

Homeless students are two times more often to go hungry.

Obesity is more prevalent in homeless students.

The lifetime suicide attempt rates of homeless students are double to quadruple that of non-homeless students.

Homeless students are two times more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability.

Homeless students are are four times more likely to show a developmental delay.

The prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems are triple the rate of non-homeless students.

25 percent of homeless students have seen domestic violence.

83 percent of homeless students saw at least one violent act by age 12.

SOURCES: The National Center on Family Homelessness and Brown County Schools

Task force organizing

Brown County is mobilizing to help homeless students.

The first meeting of the Homeless Teen Task Force will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Creekside Retreat (the former Creekside Apartments and Wabash Apartments) on State Road 46 East.

All are welcome to come share ideas.