National Runaway Safeline

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From Hope From Support From Relief  From Validation From Resilience From Peace From Understanding From Change From Authenticity From Love From Breakthrough

Join us for our annual Celebrating the Spirit of Youth event and help the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) support youth who have run away, are experiencing homelessness and are facing crises. The evening promises to be a celebration of hope, resilience and the incredible spirit of young people striving to overcome adversity. And we know you’ll have a lot of fun, too!

NRS needs your support to grow our programs and meet the needs of youth and families who reach out to us for help every day. Your generosity ensures we are just ONE CALL AWAY.

As young people today face significant emotional, physical and financial challenges, they are turning to NRS for help. And we are responding with support for and validation of all youth, and continually working to protect our most vulnerable young people.

Youth in crisis need somewhere to turn. They need someone who will respond without judgement, anger, accusations, rejection, indifference.

NRS is that resource. And we are just ONE CALL AWAY.

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Saturday, April 20th, 2024
6:30pm – 10:00pm CT

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2024 Honorees

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Kellie Bryson is a passionate youth advocate and activist based in Atlanta. She works hard to empower young people and fight against injustice. Drawing from her experiences, Kellie brings a unique perspective to her work. As a PTSD-diagnosed veteran who has faced homelessness and identifies as LGBTQ+ and BIPOC, she understands firsthand the challenges many marginalized youth encounter. It is this profound understanding that fuels her mission to foster environments that nurture youth voices and empower them to achieve self-sustainability and self-actualization. 


Kellie’s approach is rooted in trauma-informed practices, anti-racist principles, and a commitment to liberation. She believes in challenging oppressive systems while uplifting those who have been marginalized within them. Her advocacy is not just about addressing symptoms but tackling root causes to create lasting change. 


Beyond her activism, Kellie finds solace in nature and cherishes moments spent with her cat. Her insatiable curiosity drives her to constantly seek out new perspectives, ensuring that her advocacy remains informed and effective. 

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Amea Smith was living in Greensboro, NC, when she first experienced homelessness. She was couch surfing and managing to attend school, but the instability became overwhelming. In search of a more stable lifestyle, Amea moved to Louisiana. Her new living situation was challenging, as she was surrounded by individuals grappling with substance abuse. Anxious and stressed, Amea struggled to break free from the toxic environment, and eventually experienced a mental breakdown. With nowhere to turn, Amea sought support from a mental health facility. These experiences ignited her passion for speaking up against the hardships many young people face when trying to achieve stability after leaving home.

Today, Amea is safely housed in Baton Rouge, LA, with her partner, and their newborn baby. As a Peer Support Specialist at Youth Oasis, a nonprofit organization focused on addressing youth homelessness and building a local network of support, Amea uses her lived experiences to make a profound impact on youth. She formed and currently oversees the Youth Advisory Board, handles social media, and conducts community outreach to identify prospective youth leaders and to ensure vulnerable youth are connected to services.

As a member of the National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board, Amea contributes insights and experiences to the conversation on youth homelessness and runaway prevention.

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Kimberly A. Waller serves as the associate commissioner for the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, located within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Prior to joining the Biden Administration in December 2021, Waller served as a senior policy advisor in the District of Columbia’s interagency council on homelessness, where she led the implementation of the District’s strategic plans to prevent and end youth and family homelessness. In this role, Waller applied an integrated, interagency approach to coordinating diverse systems impacting service delivery for children, youth and families.

Waller previously worked as a policy advisor with FYSB where she led policy, legislative and regulatory initiatives on matters related to youth experiencing homelessness and domestic violence. She began her career in the United States Senate where she advised on health and human services initiatives. In addition to her federal experience, Waller also has extensive local and state level experience developing and implementing child welfare and human services policies. She served as a senior policy attorney with the Children’s Law Center in the District of Columbia and a fellow at the University of Michigan Law School. 

Waller holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Event Emcees

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Sharday Hamilton currently serves as the Youth Engagement and  Outreach Coordinator at the National Runaway Safeline (NRS). Her association with NRS began as a Youth Fellow, where she played an instrumental role in supporting and managing the NRS Youth Advisory Board. Under her guidance and dedication, the Youth Advisory Board soared to new heights, leading to her subsequent promotion to her current role. 

Sharday is particularly passionate about issues concerning youth mental health care and youth justice. After her own experiences with homelessness and struggles with the foster care system, Sharday considers herself to be “the voice of the unheard.” In 2024, her expertise was recognized by Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, in which Sharday served as a panelist during their “FIRSTHAND: Homelessness” series. The panel, titled “Finding A Way Home,” highlighted the critical lack of avenues available for support, and the potential of community support.  

In 2023, Sharday participated on panels, in training seminars, and at community awareness events across various cities, including Nashville, Dallas, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. 

Before joining NRS, Sharday was actively involved with the National Network for Youth, an organization dedicated to amplifying youth voices and accelerating progress towards ending youth homelessness. Additionally, she contributed her time and expertise to The Night Ministry, a Chicago-based organization providing crucial housing support and healthcare services to those in need. 



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Mia Sostrin (they/them) is an advocate for youth empowerment and a dedicated social justice activist. For the third year in a row, we are proud to welcome Mia as co-host of Celebrating the Spirit of Youth. 

Mia’s personal history includes growing up with an abusive mother and multiple attempts at running away. After leaving home permanently, Mia faced mental health challenges that impacted their schooling and led to legal issues. With support, Mia has overcome these challenges and is now thriving as one of the longest-standing members of the NRS Youth Advisory Board. Mia has consistently used their expertise to help guide NRS in uplifting the voices of youth with lived experience. 

Currently, Mia is interning with Care for Friends, where they are learning social work skills and directly supporting individuals who are transitioning out of homelessness. Recently, they have served as an active youth voice for two different national campaigns: Care over Cost, which helps everyday people fight against denied insurance claims and aims to transform American healthcare to prioritize people over profit, and Treatment not Trauma, which brings together community members, aldermen, social workers, and youth, all advocating for a city with a funded, robust public care system and a city-wide crisis response program that dispatches properly trained mental health professionals and EMTs rather than police officers. 

As a Chicago native, Mia has personally met with many aldermen, including Irvin, Clay, Manahoppinworth, Vasquez, and Knudsen to further their advocacy efforts. In 2024, Mia used their experience to support the “Bring Chicago Home” referendum, which aims to dedicate permanent affordable housing with supportive services such as mental healthcare, educational opportunities, job training, and domestic violence resources. “Bring Chicago Home” also created exciting opportunities for Mia to meet with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s team about creating additional advocacy opportunities for youth who have experienced homelessness. 

Event Entertainment

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Victoria Standoak is a young artist who originally comes from Seattle, Washington, but now calls Baltimore, Maryland, home. Her music is blends of introspection and observation, inviting listeners to reflect on both the world around them and themselves. With her unique voice and profound lyrics, Victoria Standoak makes a lasting impression on whoever hears her music. 

Click here to explore Victoria’s music on your favorite streaming service!

2023 Event Photos

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