Mama Swift opens her heart and home
The homeless situation has been a hot- button topic lately in our community. Prevalent on social media and in government meetings, municipalities in Douglas County are currently working on ways to make sure persons without housing connect with the resources available to them.
It is usually easy to spot someone who is homeless. If the signs they are carrying don’t give them away, other things do. Their clothes and the look on their faces are both very telling. But there is another homeless problem going on, and we are not as quick or likely to spot this one.
It involves young people – teenagers sitting in class at high school, working fast food jobs alongside other children but living without a “home.” They have no set bed to sleep in, instead searching for a safe place wherever they can find one. Sometimes it is a friend’s couch; other times, it is their own car. They are simply trying to hide in plain sight.
Pam Swift is not only involved with these young people; she has been known to welcome them into her home and her heart.
“I have had three kiddos live with or stay with me,” said Pam. The first one was a friend of her daughter’s in high school. “My daughter called me one day to tell
me that her friend was sleeping in his car several times a week when he did not want to go home.” Pam offered him a guest room and said he could use it whenever he needed to but he was not allowed to sleep in his car.
“He ended up moving into my home and stayed over a two-year period,” she added. “To this day I consider him one of my own, and he will always be welcome.”
From that moment on, Pam knew that she was not one to ever turn away young people who needed a safe spot to land. Once she started engaging with these youths, she discovered the problem was much bigger than she ever imagined.
“I do not think people are aware of the need in Douglas County,” said Pam. “In one of the wealthiest counties in the country, we have families who are struggling and kids who could use a hand up and not just a hand out.”
As a mother of three, and with a husband who passed more than 12 years ago, Pam knew standing by was not an option. Her desire to “mama” those who could really use some love and support has now turned into a part-time job with the nonprofit organization, Hide In Plain Sight (HIPS). The goal is to break the cycle through ensuring education.
Pam is currently the student advocate for HIPS. “The organization offers meaningful scholarships that help with tuition assistance, books, fees, transportation, childcare and housing,” she added. Pam said this new job is a gift to her.
“I’m the one that benefits the most, because ultimately, I get to see them find their own passions, discover confidence in their decisions and write their own chapters,” she concluded. “Hide in Plain Sight has taken something that I am passionate about, which is young people, and it has allowed me to engage in Castle Pines and all of Douglas County in a way that provides real value.”
The organization will hold an annual luncheon in Lone Tree on November 10. To attend or learn more, visit https://hideplainsight.org/.
By Karen Leigh; photo courtesy of Pam Swift