Selfie

SELECTED INTERVIEWS


Radio Interview Transcript
Subject: Reissue of A Brother's Touch
Topic: Throwaway Youth

June 13, 2002
Time: 7:20 AM (PT)
Morning Show Sacramento, CA
WAHI-AM Radio
Host: David Rosenthal.

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Q: Are you ready to rock?
OL: Yes. I'm ready to rock.
Q: We are back. 25 past 7. And a welcome to you, Mr. Owen Levy. Owen, good morning.
OL: Good morning.
Q: How ya doin', buddy?
OL: I'm doing fine today. How are you doing out there?
Q: Not too bad. Not too bad. Now, you're in New York? Right?
OL: Yes.
Q: (Overlap) from New York today (Overlap).
OL: From New York.
Q: As we always say, we are very sorry to hear that. But hey! you know, not everybody can live in California.
OL: Absolutely.
Q: All right. The plight of the throwaway teens remains unchanged in 20 years. You wrote a book back in the 80s on the subject, and it's back in print. Isn't it?
OL: That's exactly right, David. Twenty years ago I wrote a book called "Brother's Touch." It was a book that told the story of a young throwaway and what happened in his life. It's told through his older brother whose a Vietnam vet who sort of traces the journey that his younger brother's life took while he was out of the country. And basically it was a typical family situation that pushed Earl out on the street. He ended up living in New York. He ended up having all the problems that confront young people when they're living on the streets of any major city.
Q: And what are some of those problems, Owen?
OL: Well, first of all, the basic problem of a place to live, food, shelter. But then there's a problem of what kind of influences they meet on the street. They easily fall into drug abuse, to alcohol abuse. They become the victims of people who are users, people who will take advantage of them on the street. And then, of course, they have to survive. So, how is a kid, 14, 15, 16 years old going to survive on the street? What commodity do they have that they could possibly earn money with? Unfortunately, that becomes their body.
Q: Wow! And it is a sad, sad tale, and it has repeated itself over and over again. Why is it that New York seems to be the magnet for these kids? What is it they're looking for they can't find anywhere else in (SIC) New York City?
OL: Well, I would have said 20 years ago New York was the magnet because it was a big city. It was easy for a kid to get lost in the mix here on the streets of New York because it was such an active city. But, I think, in the last 20 years the problem has mushroomed, and cities across the country are having this problem. Your own city of Sacramento, for instance, has . . . in 1994 started a youth shelter called the Wind Youth Center that provides services for young people in the Sacramento area. And according to the information on their web page, they are servicing some 1500 young people who are currently living on the streets of Sacramento. So, it's not primarily an issue that a big city like New York is confronting. Yes. Twenty years ago New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, these were the magnet cities for kids running away from abusive situations. And that's the key word. Remember. They are running away from something. They're not running to something. Because whenever they get to those cities, they find themselves in very difficult circumstances.
Q: Okay. So, we know these kids are runnin' off. We know there's thousands and thousands of them out here, a lot of them, using, like you said, using their bodies as a commodity to try to get shelter, to try to get food and to try to get at least out of the gutter, so to speak. What else can we do to help these kids? And are there organizations out there that can help them out?
OL: Absolutely. There's one that I'm doing some work with in New York. It's called the Hetrick-Martin Institute. And they have a web page, HMI.org, and they provide not only drop-in services where they provide the kids with a hot meal and a shower and counseling but they have a Board of Education-certified high school for at-risk youth. So, this is a high school. Right now they have 50 students enrolled. They're hoping to expand to 150 next year. And basically what they do is they provide a safe environment for these kids to complete their education, and they also provide counseling and services that provides them with the kind of skills they will need for independent living, because, often, many of these kids are kids that have been pushed out of their homes for whatever reason, either an abusive situation or a situation where they're unable to remain in the home. Now, the Hetrick-Martin Institute does not provide a shelter but they do provide services to . . . liaison services to other facilities in the city that do provide overnight shelter facilities for young people. And I believe the Wind Youth Center there in Sacramento recently instituted its own overnight shelter before they were basically provided a drop-in center and an outreach center. And one of the things we have to keep in mind that often these kids, when they're out on the street, they start to group together. They become like a little tribe. They become their own little family. And they start living in abandoned buildings or under bridges in any kind of place where they can feel secure for the night as a group. And often it's very hard for an adult to penetrate this, once they have formed this bond with each other. So, one of the important things is that these agencies that are blossoming out there are confronting the fact that it's often a challenge to get the kids to trust them once they've been out on the street for a while.
Q: We're talking with Owen Levy. The book is called "A Brother's Touch." And released in the 80s. Back in print. A book about throwaway children. And according to Owen Levy not much has changed in the last 20 years since the book came out.
OL: This is true. This is true. Like I said, there are more facilities for them to go to. But often the kids aren't willing to go to them. They've had such bad experiences with adults that they've kind of . . . are immune now to people wanting to reach out and help them, because, often, people have reached out and helped them under false pretenses and only have gotten their confidence only to be abused again. And I just wanted to say, in case anyone wants to get the book, it just came out. So, it may not be in the local bookstores. They can call 877-823-9235. And that's the publisher. You have an order line there that people can order the book on, or they can get the book at BarnesandNoble.com as well.
Q: Very, very good stuff. "A Brother's Touch." The book, published 20 years ago, or still about throwaway children. And, again, the name of that foundation again and the Web site, Owen.
OL: It's the Hetrick-Martin Institute and it's HMI.org. And if you go there, you can also get information about the book as well, because the book is featured this month, because I'm doing a book signing as a fundraiser for the organization in a couple of weeks.
Q: Very, very good. Owen, thanks for joining us this morning. Do appreciate you checking in from New York City. Owen Levy, on AM959. Thanks again, Owen.
OL: Thank you very much, David.
###



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