Archive for April, 2019

April 22, 2019

Fun at SYM


Game night fun!
Since it was started two years ago, Game Night has been a big hit with clients and volunteers alike.
Breakfast taco troupe
Volunteers from Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church thoroughly enjoy themselves as they make food for our freezer.

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April 22, 2019

Fun at SYM


Game night fun!
Since it was started two years ago, Game Night has been a big hit with clients and volunteers alike.
Breakfast taco troupe
Volunteers from Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church thoroughly enjoy themselves as they make food for our freezer.

via Blogger http://bit.ly/2GAfEyz

April 22, 2019

Fun at SYM


Game night fun!
Since it was started two years ago, Game Night has been a big hit with clients and volunteers alike.
Breakfast taco troupe
Volunteers from Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church thoroughly enjoy themselves as they make food for our freezer.

via Blogger http://bit.ly/2GAfEyz

April 21, 2019

UT students buy into SYM theory



   An organization of UT students called Friends of Street Youth held a panel discussion last fall to brainstorm ways to help. They included on that panel a recovered SYM client and representatives from other organizations that help street youth.
    The event attracted about 40 students and included a question-and-answer session that lasted two hours, as they sought a deeper understanding and compassion for homeless young adults. The resounding conclusion? Street youth are like college students in many ways, but they have far fewer support resources.
    Newly inspired, the students turned their attention to ways they could help. One project was a clothing drive they held this spring. They put collection boxes in dorms, and more than 100 students donated 355 items with a thrift store value over $1,300. There were tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, shoes, hats, purses, belts – even a bra.
    We value these and other tangible items like food and toiletries because street youth often come to us first seeking necessities. If we can meet immediate needs, we can encourage follow-up visits, which enable us to begin to build trust and eventually change lives.
    The students’ second project was to form a pen pal club to serve those few clients who become incarcerated. I hesitate to mention this in a newsletter, because so few clients are incarcerated for long. It does happen, though, and the students recognized the value of clients corresponding with people very much like themselves. Many of them already volunteer in our facility, but they wanted something any student could do directly from campus.
    We know from tracking our statistics that 80 percent of clients who engage deeply with us – and that means at least 40 hours of contact and 10 deep conversations with SYM staff – will set and achieve goals that lead to real changes in their lives. That’s about two times more than clients who engage with us less often. We believe so strongly in that dynamic that we update our statistics daily on the front page of our website (streetyouthministry.org).
    We know that our clients are in need, and we are delighted to have lots to share in the way of food and physical things. We also know our clients are short of support, so we want to be their guidance counselors through all the choices they need to make. And we know that most have been deeply hurt along life’s journey so far, so we study hard to be agents of change, restoration and healing with our clients.
    This is the SYM way of doing things — our “theory of change” — and we are delighted that the UT students have learned this lesson.

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April 20, 2019

Our clients mature in amazing ways!


   Bridgette sat, alone, on a sofa in our Drop-in Center, arms crossed, brow furrowed, staring at other clients. Clearly, she was annoyed.I wondered what I had done. As I watched the evening play out, however, I discovered something that made me smile. I’ll divulge that in a sec …
   We have lots of clients in our Drop-in. There are days they can come and go at will, and there are other days when they need to be on time to participate in scheduled activities like art group, prayer time, and peer support group. We met a record number of new clients last year — almost 220 — and they mixed with our existing clients so we served over 650 in all. Not everyone knows everyone else, although we help them form a community. Some are maturing and some are not.
   Lately, we’ve had a lot of new clients come to our center who are 15 to 19 years old. Most are fresh from foster care and usually boisterous. They can be very messy, because they haven’t lived where they are asked to help keep things clean and straight. It’s a challenge for sure to get them acclimated to us!
   We also have quite a few clients in the 22-to-26 age range who have been around for a while. They often have jobs and are living in supported housing that has come their way from grant money that SYM helped bring to Austin (It’s called Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, if you want to research it). It’s an experimental 3-year grant of $11 million for housing homeless young adults under 26.
   And it’s working: After just 6 months, statistics show 40% fewer unsheltered youth and 25% fewer homeless youth in Austin. Meanwhile, SYM client numbers grew by 40%. Somehow the YHDP grant is actually increasing the number of youth who want our counseling! And that’s a great thing, because YHDP pays only for housing — no services.
   Back to Bridgette: On this particular night, we had a good mix of established clients who have benefitted from YHDP and new ones waiting to participate. The new clients were clique-ish. They arrived as a group, sat as a group, and went outside as a group. And everywhere they went, they left a mess.
   Bridgette was watching all of this. It turns out I hadn’t annoyed her at all — it was the group! She rose from her seat, scooped up the scraps they had tossed onto the floor, then walked outside, only to see another mess on the ground. “This is ridiculous!” she exclaimed as she picked it up. “They shouldn’t act like this!”
   I chuckled as I figured out what was going on. Twelve months ago, she was the one leaving the litter and we were picking up after her! It’s a pattern I’ve learned to recognize: Clients who shed their bad habits become annoyed when others don’t. Bridgette’s reaction was a sign of good things to come, so I welcomed it! She was growing up!
   We know our clients change their lives, get jobs, become more responsible, conquer past problems, and mature in amazing ways.It’s truly a privilege to be their guidance counselors during this time. We believe every homeless young adult deserves one. We’re now expanding our reach southward to San Marcos, but our real plan is to figure out how to train people who already have street youth in or near their lives and want to help!
   And we can’t wait to see how each of these wonderful individuals turns out! .
Terry Cole

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