(left to right) Sarah Workneh, Tim, Billy Joe Star and Mark Watson. (The dog is Bodi).
Paul Wellman

Two days a week, Billy Joe Star and a coworker set out from Noah’s Anchorage with a backpack stuffed with snacks and bottled water and head for State Street. They do not plan to shop, dine, or do anything remotely recreational. They are outreach workers and their objective is to make contact with unaccompanied young people and forge relationships, however fleeting.

It’s a hit and miss venture. Some days, the busy commercial thoroughfare is riddled with young people hanging out in packs or alone, propping panhandling signs, playing music, or just socializing. But on others, Star and her partner get all the way to the dolphin fountain without encountering a single young person. This past Friday, January 14, it was pay dirt: They met someone nearly every other block. With their tattoos, multiple piercings and black army boots, these kids can be impossible to miss. But they can blend into the maw of shoppers, too, as ordinary looking as your high school valedictorian. To read more, see homelessinsb.org.


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