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Project Legacy Gives Hope to Teens in Need

Created: 12/22/2013 11:10 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- The holiday season can be joyous for many, but for others it's a reminder of the challenges they're facing. Especially those who may not have a home or family to share it with. We talked with a local couple who support high risk young adults, by taking them in and making them part of their family.

Karen Edmonds has three kids of her own. While Kevin and Maurice are not her biological children, she supports them like one of her own.

"I didn't have nothing at all, period,” said Kevin Lee who lives with the Edmonds. Kevin Lee grew up surrounded by drugs and violence. He was in and out of foster homes, and recently became homeless for several months.

"At the time I was just feeling like I’m not going to do anything, I’m going to be a bum on the streets. I’m going to live on the streets for the rest of my life,” said Lee, remembering his past.

It's young adults like Kevin that Karen and her husband John reach out to, "It's incredibly intensive parenting,” said Karen Edmonds, Co-Founder of Project Legacy. Karen believes that tough love is the answer to getting kids off the streets.

"You can't live here and use [drugs], you can't live here and keep offending,” said Karen.

They started Project Legacy a few years ago. A program to meet the needs of kids of color in Rochester. While not everyone they help lives in their home, they financially support 11 people right now.

"If we can change the trajectory for one person we're not just changing that one person, we're changing all the succeeding generations,” said John Edmonds, Co-Founder of Project Legacy.

Their goal is to set high expectations in order to create a genuine sense of hope. Hope that many teens they work with have never had.

"Four of the kids that we support were homeless last year and are college freshman this year,” said Karen.

"They open their hearts to any kid that's willing to change, not just for themselves, but for the people around them,” said Maurice Cain, who lives with the Edmonds.

"I’m trying to always show these kids that I love them as much as my own kids,” said Karen.

For Kevin Lee, the support from Project Legacy has changed his life, "Since I’ve been here, I’ve been happy. I’ve been myself,” said Lee.

Project Legacy has just recently come under the umbrella of Olmsted Outreach, which makes donations tax deductible. The Edmonds say there are hundreds of teens who are essentially homeless in Rochester. There's just no way they are able to help them all at once.

Rochester couple helps hundreds of teens from becoming homeless