Author Justin Reed Early to Receive National Network for Youth’s Golden Pen Media Award at their Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, DC January 26, 2010

Award Celebrates STREET CHILD, Early’s Inspiring Memoir that documents the lives and deaths of many street children

Los Angeles, CA – Justin Reed Early, will be honored at the National Network for Youth’s Annual Awards Dinner on January 26, 2010 with the prestigious organization’s annual Golden Pen Award. Early is a successful businessman and activist for homeless and disenfranchised youth, whose childhood was marred by physical abuse, alcoholism, drug use and trafficking when, beginning at age 10, he became homeless in Seattle and lived on the streets for more than half of his life before moving to San Francisco and entering his first recovery home at age 21, chronicled in his memoir “Streetchild: An Unpaved Passage.”

Presented by the NN4Y for his “tireless work on behalf of homeless youth,” the honor comes as a response to Early’s literary articulation of a life on the deadly streets of Seattle and San Francisco – STREETCHILD: AN UNPAVED PASSAGE was released in 2009. Early will appear as part of Symposium 2010 along with keynote speaker Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. This year the National Network for Youth celebrates 35 years of championing the needs of runaway, homeless, and other disconnected youth.

“We cannot think of a better way to celebrate 35 years than by honoring Justin Reed Early and the incredible contributions he has made to this country and our youngest citizens,” said Kayla Jackson, Vice President of Programs for NN4Y. “Mr.Early has been where 1.5 million American children are right now. He offers a message of hope, resurrection and redemption, which is one of our most powerful tools for advocacy and change. Anyone who reads his book will be enlightened and moved by his commitment to pay it forward.” Kayla also noted that Victoria Wagner, President & CEO of NN4Y, was an outreach worker in Seattle in 1980 and witnessed much of Justin’s street life and now his success.

“I am flattered to be honored by the nation’s most formidable advocacy group for disenfranchised children,” said Early. “Working with NN4Y and it’s national youth agencies to help move homeless children from the streets into success and mainstream society is rewarding on its own; but to be honored by people who are actually responsible for saving my life is very emotional. Many of my peers did not live to tell their stories,” concluded Early.

He continues his grassroots campaign by sharing his story and providing free books at various youth programs throughout the United States encouraging others affected by abuse and homelessness into better lives.

Renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark captured Early’s life on the streets in a Life magazine photo essay, and a teenaged Early can also been seen in the Oscar-nominated documentary STREETWISE (1984). This true-life journal was directed by Ms. Mark’s husband, Martin Bell, and produced by Life writer Cheryl McCall.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian boldly states: “Hard luck memoirs have grown extra cheap in recent years, partly due to the celebration of bogus ones. Justin Reed Early’s StreetChild: An Unpaved Passage is no such thing.”

Now a public speaker and advocate, Early left his executive position in Beverly Hills to complete and promote his memoir. He was a founding Board member of the popular youth agency BAY Positives in San Francisco and served on several youth committees. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

A portion of the proceeds from StreetChild will benefit life enhancing non-profit organizations, including many of those that helped Justin while on the streets.


Darla Bardine


January 22, 2010

604 words2.3 min read