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'Finding her voice, a girl in a shelter tells her story:" Philadelphia Inquirer profiles Stephanie, who writes for One Step Away

12/31/2009 11:19:17 AM

From page one of the Dec. 31 Philadelphia Inquirer: "Finding her voice, a girl in a shelter tells her story"

"Stephanie Bermudez, 13, had a secret.

She held it so tightly that none of her friends at the Russell H. Conwell Middle Magnet School knew it and only a few teachers knew it.

Stephanie feared people knowing that for the last four months she had been going home to a shelter in North Philadelphia, where she shared a small room with her mother, Rosa, and 9-year-old sister, Amanda.

It was a source of intense embarrassment for the teenager, who has a disability and already feels the glare of scrutiny at school. Legally blind since birth, the straight-A student has to use a telescope in class to see the blackboard. "I feel the eyes on me," she said.

Stephanie had every intention of keeping the truth locked away, until she was asked before Thanksgiving to share her experience about living in a shelter in writing.

No way, thought Stephanie.

It was self-protection. If the kids at school found out, what would happen?

But the offer to share her thoughts on homelessness was part of a bigger project that began to intrigue Stephanie as much as it terrified her.

The Philadelphia nonprofit that operates the shelter, Resources for Human Development, was starting a monthly newspaper. It would join the 19 "street newspapers" published in other U.S. cities and sold by either poor or homeless vendors, according to the North American Street Newspaper Association ..."

Read the whole story here.

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