Homeless and Runaway Youth, it’s More Complicated than You Think, with Marnie Grundman – Ep. 116

Every year, in North America alone, 1.2 – 2.8 million children run away from home. Just pause for a second and let that sink in. On top of that, statistics show that on any given night there are 1.3 million youth living on the streets and in abandoned buildings. Stats like this can be hard to comprehend because we live in a day and age where there is so much opportunity around us, yet we sometimes fail to realize the struggles of those around us who never let on that anything is wrong.

My guest on this episode of the podcast, Marnie Grundman, has made it her life’s mission to advocate for runaway children and youth, and raise awareness about the reality of why children run and what life is truly like living on the streets.

Marnie is actually a returning guest to the podcast; she originally joined me back on episode 21 when the show was still named “surviving my podcast”. It was then that I was first able to talk to her and listen to her story of how she was a runaway from the ages of 13 -17, living on the streets and doing all that she could to simply just survive from one day to the next. Since the time of that podcast, when her advocacy work was just beginning, things have taken off and changed in a many ways, so I decided it would be a great idea to bring her back on the podcast to give us some updates on her work and how her life has changed since she began this advocacy journey and telling her story to news and media outlets all across Canada and North America.

Marnie Grundman is the renowned author of MISSING: A True Story of a Childhood Lost, Which can be found on her website, MarnieGrundman.com. A child who belonged to no one, missing at the tender age of 13, she experienced first-hand the worst of humanity. However, she didn’t just make it through; she rose above the darkness, becoming a beacon of light, of empowerment, for others to do the same.

She is living proof that no matter what life hands you, you have within you the spirit to rise, to rewrite the outcome of your story, to create a life filled with love and happiness.

​What began as a story of healing led to one of triumph, of the power of the human spirit, of one woman’s surthrival against all odds. Marnie has since become an advocate for the missing, working to change the perception of runaway children so they might finally get the help they need. Her compelling articles, engaging talks and interviews, and page-turning memoirs have become a shining light to the lost, the struggling. Marnie teaches people how not to live their damage, how to heal and overcome, how to rise up and reclaim a life of happiness.

During our chat, you’ll hear Marnie and I talk about:

  • Updates on her work and how her life has changed especially in the just the last few years. She discusses the stigma that surrounds childhood runaways, and her efforts to erase that by sharing the truth as seen through her own eyes and through these whom she advocates for every day.
  • The reasons why young children and youth decide to run away, and how it’s much more complicated than simply rebelling against household rules deciding to go on some kind of adventure.
    • You’ll learn how children who decide to run away are often not able to effectively articulate the reasons why, because they are afraid.
    • They’ve been silenced and running is a way for them to try to speak out.
    • How the very act of running and living on the streets is not some glamorous adventure, or a fun time of memories to look back on later in life.
  • The 40th anniversary is coming up of her last runaway experience. The memories and wounds are still as fresh as ever, and the struggles are still difficult. This milestone is something that she continues to process, but the difference now is that even with those struggles, she has tools and knowledge to help her cope.
    • Seeing how far she’s come is inspiring and validating, but also heartbreaking because there is still so much work to be done to help the children and youth today.
  • Realizing that while she has met so many people who are supporting her work and helping to spread her message and raise awareness, there are also many who do not support her; people who she was close too before she began speaking her truth.
  • Her work with Covenant House and her goal of doing “sleep outs” for all 31 Covenant Houses in North America, this calendar year, to raise funds and awareness for runaway and homeless children and youth.
  • Consider taking a moment and give a smile, some change, or a moment of kindness to someone who is struggling. You never know the difference it can make to a child, youth, or adult who feels like nobody is listening and nobody cares.

I hope you’ll consider joining Marnie in 2019, and participating in a Sleep Out or Donating. There is one near me and I will definitely be there to help this incredible cause, and to help Marnie continue to share her message of hope and healing.

Be sure and follow Marnie on her social media accounts (just search Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for “Marnie Grundman”. Her website, MarnieGrundman.com has all of the information on her books, her work, and to her Tedx Talk!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Beyond Your Past on your favorite podcasting app, and leave a review..I’d sure appreciate it 🙂

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP


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All  conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on BeyondYourPast.com, and BeyondYourPastRadio.com is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


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