Homeless Teen Now In Colony School Thanks To Sheriff, Clothing Store

COLONY – A homeless teenager is now a student at a local high school thanks to the efforts of the school, a historic clothing store and a transitional housing program started by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office .

The 18-year-old, from the Capital Region, had been abandoned by his family and was wandering around the Albany area when he and a stranger struck up a conversation, according to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

After hearing the boy’s story, the stranger called the sheriff’s office because he knew about a transitional housing program the sheriff had started in 2019.

The Sheriff’s Homeless Improvement Project provides housing for homeless people, including those who have recently been released from jail or state prison, as well as services such as drug and drug counseling. mental health and job interview guidelines, according to Apple.

When asked what services the teen wanted to take advantage of at the shelter, the teen had one wish, according to Apple: to finish high school.

Officers contacted South Colonie Central School District administrators, who helped the teenager enroll for the 2022-23 school year. He would continue to stay at the shelter, according to Apple, where a bus would pick him up daily.

A major problem remained, however: the teenager had neither clothes nor school supplies.

The sheriff’s office contacted B. Lodge and Co., a department store on South Pearl Street, which has operated around Albany since the 1860s, asking if the teenager could come down and buy some school clothes which the office would then pay for, according to Apple.

Jack Yonally, the father of the family store, told the sheriff’s office that the store would provide the clothes for free.

Store owner Mark Yonally said the teenager was “very happy” to browse the store.

“He really liked Champion items,” he said.

B. Lodge and Co, which has struggled since the pandemic began, always tries to help the community when they can, Yonally said.

“We try to be as good to Albany as Albany has been to us,” he said.

Apple said he is grateful for the help the South Colonie School District and B. Lodge and Co. have given the teenager, who has been in school for about a week and a half.

“He’s doing great,” Apple said. “He’s totally overwhelmed and very grateful…we’re going to give him everything he needs to succeed, and hopefully he pays it back some other time.”

Apple posted about B. Lodge and Co. donating clothes to the teen on Facebook, and said dozens of people have since reached out, donating clothes, school supplies and meals, though he added that the teenager was mostly fixed at this point.

“It’s heartwarming to see this, because we live in a big community…most of the time you don’t hear about the good stuff,” he said.

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