Archive for ‘client’

September 25, 2019

Our Newest Hit: SYM Talent Night


Three times a year we re-invent ourselves at SYM by trying new activities that keep things fresh for our clients. You can imagine what a daunting task this can be, after 11 years! (It’s the reason our Drop-in Center is full of clients who are engaged and changing their lives.)

This past May I faced a dilemma. I didn’t have the ideas I wanted to form our summer schedule, but a staff member had brought forward one idea that I couldn’t quite put down: Talent Night.

I could imagine the risks: bad singing, lurid lyrics, rowdy behavior, arguments over style and preference. My head was swimming. Somehow, though, I couldn’t shake the idea, so we gave it a try. And when we try something, we stick to it until the end of the “semester” (in this case, summer). We know our clients thrive on this kind of consistency. Here’s how it went:

At the first Talent Night, our staff provided half the performances, but soon we figured out how to improve participation: stay open only as long as someone is performing. Give everyone who signs up one turn, plus an encore. When it’s over, that’s it.

Amazingly, more and more clients came and shared. We’ve had singing, lip syncing, dancing, original rap songs, poetry, guitar and piano playing. We’ve even had origami and a dog that sings. It adds up to this: every evening now, something magic occurs!

What I saw at one of our recent Talent Nights made my heart soar, and I want to share with you several of the performances that made that happen:


● One of the first acts was a dog that simply howls when he hears sirens. They wail, he starts and pretty soon, everyone howls along with him.

● A new client — who until recently had mostly avoided us — signed up to sing. Like some we serve, he’d had negative experiences with Christians early in his life and was convinced they hated him. But we love him and accept him just as he is. And he sang – oh my, did he sing! Not pop or angry rap. He sang “Faithfully,” by Journey in a stunning tenor voice. The magic started right then.

● The next clients to perform used lyrics everyone could see, and the crowd joined in. Talent Night stopped being about performing and started being about community.

● Next came a young lady who had been spitting mad at us the day before as she struggled with significant issues. We persevered with her, helping as we were able. Her song of choice wasn’t anti-establishment or a “woe is me — my life is terrible” number. It was “Hallelujah,” the standard written by Leonard Cohen. We were using our homespun system – a mic and TV sound bar – but about three lines into her performance, I turned it off. She didn’t need it! Her voice filled the room and the crowd, suddenly riveted, cheered with her. It was magic!


● Toward night’s end, a client we recognized as struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues appeared. He had rarely communicated with us, and he had seemed unable to focus or sit still. When he noticed we were giving performers candy as prizes, he wrote his name and the title of a rap song. To my surprise, he knew every word! He even did a second encore. The audience was impressed, and afterward when I told him I was so happy he came and sang, he replied, “You’re welcome.”

I love the job I get to do every day. It is such an honor and privilege to work for these young people. One way or another, they have been told they are throwaways, worthless and unwanted. They are NOT! They are so precious. And talented!

Thanks be to God we get to share time with them! And thank you for helping make it happen!

Terry

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July 17, 2019

Clients Need More than Housing


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   “We don’t
just need housing,” a client named Curtis told me recently. “We need help
learning how to live in housing.” He was frustrated, but he’s part
of a voice of change in Austin.




 Street Youth
Ministry is trusted, and we inspire our clients. We empower them to make change
— we don’t make it for them. We are an evolving ministry, always looking to
keep things fresh. Being fresh helps attract people to us, but there’s more to
needing to be fresh than that. The landscape and the needs are always changing.
One must listen intently and inquire directly to learn what clients are
coping with and what they need now
. And you must pay attention to the
environment in which they are homeless and seeking help: other agencies, local
and federal agencies, relevant social problems and pressures.


   Curtis was
referring to a new HUD initiative (administered by ECHO with
federal funding) that has provided many clients with free housing for a period
of time. I know its origins well, because helped write the program definition that
got HUD approval and brought the $5.5 million initiative to life. HUD pays only
for housing, so we receive none of the funding and we are not able to be part
of the oversight. However, we refer lots of interested clients into the program
and continue to work with them afterwards.

Curtis was
voicing concern that people who are taken from the streets and placed in
apartments, even free ones, lose their community. They can become depressed and
isolated. In addition, we see clients with stress and anxiety from housing
responsibilities that can seem almost unsurmountable. Many invite their
friends over to re-establish that community, but this can lead to eviction.
Depressed
and isolated people have a hard time with motivation to find and keep jobs—a
new experience for many–so they are often unemployed.  Overall they don’t feel competent at life.


SYM has
adapted to this changing environment by listening to our clients
. We asked
how can we help. Some want one-on-one budgeting help. Some want employment
guidance. We spend considerable time in guidance counseling these days with
people who have housing but aren’t sure what is next. In addition, we help with
groceries once a week (see story next page). And we provide cleaning supplies
once a month. All this allows us to maintain our relationship, even
though the clients perhaps don’t come to our Drop-in Center as often, because
they have an apartment
.

   We have added several
events and activities with a goal of creating a feeling of competency within
our clients: art group, game night and talent night. They can volunteering at
SYM to earn credits so they can purchase nice donated items from our “store.”
(We’ve found this to be a great way to also re-engage clients in a personal
economy and teach deferred gratification.) They can earn participate in our online
learning programs and earn credit for merchandise on Amazon. (This teaches them
the process of saving for larger items and planning purchases.) We have several
events that are great for lonely clients who might need a community: peer
support group, movie night, or game night.

  

Curtis is a
good example of our guidance counseling at work
. He first received
services almost daily about 18 months ago. Then he stopped coming and began
pursuing jobs in security. He got an apartment under the HUD program, pays his
bills and buys his groceries. Recently, he started coming back to us on
occasion for community and guidance. He shared that he doesn’t want to work in
security. It’s just what he found. He wants to start a camp for
disadvantaged children, but he doesn’t really know where to start.


   Curtis has become
our next client intern for entrepreneurship. He will work in our Drop-in like
any intern, but we will also spend time with him teaching him about donors,
volunteers, in-kind giving, program management and so on. We hope that by the
end of the internship he will know if education or more practical experience is
the next step in pursuing his dream!



   Thank you for being a part of all the guidance
counseling and practical help we supply to our street youth clients! It
matters! It works!
  
Terry

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July 1, 2019

Our clients just love Art Group!


Our clients just love Art Group!
Twice each week, clients gather for one of our most
 popular events — Art Group.
 Clients do arts or crafts projects after lunch,
and volunteers help out with the crafts or in
 the thrift store or the kitchen.

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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 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

December 7, 2018

SYM clients observe Dia de los Muertos



‘A peaceful, beautiful moment’
Dia de los Muertos is a religious remembrance of family and friends who have died. It is celebrated throughout Mexico and among Hispanics in the U.S., including SYM clients who gathered for regular Bible study in the Drop-in recently under the guidance of Zarah, our fall intern. Some clients made private altars called ofrendas (at right), a great means of being creative and learning about others’ cultures. “It was a very peaceful and beautiful moment,” Zarah said.

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December 4, 2018

Turkey Grab


‘Turkey Grab’
 was a hit, so
 we’ll do it again! 

“It’s my first Thanksgiving, and the first time my mom and dad have ever had a home at Thanksgiving! So cool! And I’m so cute!”

We provide turkeys for clients who are housed, and they provide Thanksgiving dinners for those who are not.

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November 10, 2018

Clients join volunteers in fellowship


Clients join volunteers in fellowship
After “Investment Saturday,“ we have a sit-down family meal, with our homeless young adults and volunteers joining in. It is really fun to watch the community come together in fellowship.

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November 10, 2018

Clients join volunteers in fellowship


Clients join volunteers in fellowship
After “Investment Saturday,“ we have a sit-down family meal, with our homeless young adults and volunteers joining in. It is really fun to watch the community come together in fellowship.

via Blogger https://ift.tt/2Pmghlz