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Woman Who Started Shelter For Homeless Teens Is Giving Back More Than A House

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VENICE (CBS) — The Teen Project officially opens a new shelter for homeless teens in Venice on Monday.

Reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, Amy Johnson introduces us to the selfless and remarkable woman behind the project. The shelter is formerly known as The P.A.D. (which stands for protection and direction) And those are two things these shelter residents could use.

“This is creating a pseudo home for them,” says Laurie Burns, “many of them haven’t seen home for a while.”

Burns established The P.A.D. (about a block from Venice Beach) to help the young homeless aged 18-24.

Johnson says Burns knows first hand what it’s like to be without a roof over her head. She tells Johnson she was homeless at 18 and started working as a prostitute to support herself. “I continued that way until I was 23,” says Burns, “I had no options, I had never been to college, I had no job experience. I think that happens to a lot of the kids, unfortunately.”

Burns was hooked on drugs and arrested several times. Accosted by two gunmen at 23 — “a horrible event that night” —  she got sober the next day and turned her life around.

Three years later, Burns found herself caring for an abandoned child. It was there, she decided to dedicate her life to helping at-risk kids.  A few years later, she became a foster mother. “I have four kids living in my personal home,” says Burns, “three that were homeless and one that was in foster care. And I have five kids in my other house. And now this beautiful center.”

Beautiful indeed. Eight designers decorated The P.A.D. for free.

The Teen Project takes no state or federal money. It runs solely on volunteer efforts and checks.

Despite her successful career (she’s a successful IT for a Fortune 100 company)  it’s clear — even through tears — what Burns’ passion is.

She told Johnson, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember where I came from … and I’m so blessed to have made it out. And I will spend the rest of my life doing this.”

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