Posts tagged ‘art’

December 28, 2019

Street Youth Ministry Uses Art to Reframe Conversation on Homelessness


Reposting an article from Reporting Texas published on December 19, 2019

Street Youth Ministry 

Uses Art to Reframe

Conversation on Homelessness

Reporting Texas
A collection of purple, orange and green stones appeared in front of the Congregational Church of Austin in early October. The stones were decorated to resemble pumpkins, and some were painted with words of affirmation such as “love” and “pride.”

A prayer garden made of painted rocks marks the entrance to the Street Youth Ministry’s facility in the basement of the Congregational Church on 23rd Street in Austin, Texas. The rocks are a way for the ministry to draw attention to the positive impact of its mission. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Throughout November and December, more art popped up: a face and scarf on the tree in front of the church, colorful chalk art messages on the sidewalk and hearts and peace symbols stenciled on planter pots.
The group responsible for the guerilla art was Street Youth Ministry, which wanted to draw attention to the ministry and positively impact the thousands of people who pass the building every day, said Terry Cole, the ministry’s founder. He said the ministry began creating the installations after the Austin City Council lifted a camping ban and made other changes in the city’s approach to homelessness, which sparked contentious debate.

An art installation created by Street Youth Ministry clients showcases their desire to send a positive message to the community. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
“We really just wanted to say to the neighborhood: ‘We love you, and we want to be kind to you as well,’” said Suzanne Zucca, Street Youth Ministry staff member.
Nestled in the heart of West Campus, Street Youth Ministry is located in the basement of the Congregational Church of Austin. The faith-based ministry is a day center that assists young people experiencing homelessness. Staffers refer to them as clients.

Volunteers of Street Youth Ministry set up arts and crafts for clients to make nativity scenes and angels. The program offers  practical things like clothing, counseling and food, but its goal is “to know, love and serve street-dependent youth so they might come to know Christ,” according to its annual report. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
According to its mission statement, the goal of the ministry is “to know, love and serve street-dependent youth so they might come to know Christ through the witnessing community we develop.” According to the ministry’s 2018 annual report, it provides clients with “practical things to help meet immediate needs.” Cole said the ministry is not an overnight facility.

Volunteers, such as Lorena Garza, a UT-Austin social work freshman, play a crucial role in the ministry by cleaning and organizing the basement of the Congregational Church, where the program is housed. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The ministry offers a variety of services: access to food, counseling, clothing and gear such as bicycles and sleeping bags. Founded in 2008, the ministry serves about 600 clients up to 28 years old every year.
According GuideStar, a service that reports on U.S. non-profits, the ministry reported $492,267 in gross receipts during its most recent fiscal year. According to the ministry’s 2018 year-end report, 45% of its income is from private individuals and 30% is from in-kind giving. Additional funding comes from grants, churches and other sources. According to the report, 94% of every dollar spent by the ministry goes toward program services with the remaining 6% allotted to administration and fundraising.
Cole said the ministry employs eight staffers as guidance counselors and resources on matters related to drugs, physical and mental health and safe sex practices.

Street Youth Ministry volunteer Lorena Garza, left, plays dominoes with Deon Watts, right, and another client of the Street Youth Ministry during a weekly game night on Nov. 19, 2019.  Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The team is trained to handle difficult situations and deal with people in crisis, but Cole said team members are not doctors, social workers or licensed therapists. Nearly 1,000 individuals volunteer with the ministry every year, Cole said.

Patrick Hudson, left, removes a block from a giant Jenga set while volunteering at the Street Youth Ministry’s weekly game night with other UT-Austin students Shad Khan, center, and Nuvia Cruz. The ministry’s proximity to the University allows students to accumulate volunteer hours for class and service organizations. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Austin’s homeless population has remained relatively steady since the ministry began its work.
According to the Point In Time Count compiled annually by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, 2,087 people were counted in 2010. The lowest recorded number, 1,832, occurred in 2015. In 2019, the number of individuals increased to 2,255; 50% were between the ages of 18-44.
According to ECHO, the leading factors contributing to homelessness include inadequate access to health care, lack of engagement in school or employment and time spent in juvenile detention or jail.

Two members visit the Street Youth Ministry basement to have a meal and fill out paperwork on Dec 3, 2019. The ministry opens everyday at 12 p.m. and provides a safe space for people 28 years old and younger. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
In July, when the city passed an ordinance that decriminalized sitting, lying and camping in public places, people who had been sleeping in the woods and other unsafe areas started sleeping on the streets, Cole said. A population that had been hidden became more visible.
In reaction to the heightened visibility, Gov. Greg Abbott retweeted a video of a man attacking a car in downtown Austin. It was later revealed that the video was over a year old and the person recorded was not experiencing homelessness. Cole said the misleading post had a negative impact on public perception of homeless people and a “scarring” effect on the city.

A sign posted at the 23rd street Artist’s Market notifies visitors that the Street Youth Ministry cleans the area. The ministry’s staff hope the message will counter some negative perceptions of people experiencing homelessness. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The idea for the art installation emerged amid this conversation. Cole said he wanted people walking by their building to notice a positive change and reflect on how the ministry is serving its clients.
Two clients who worked on the installation agreed to talk to Reporting Texas but declined to give their full names.
Red said she painted a rock that resembles a “golden ghost” the day she was taken to jail for having too many unpaid tickets. By the time she got out of jail, other clients had added the face to the tree in front of the building.

Red, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, laughs as her friend pulls out a bullhorn while they sit near the entrance of the Street Youth Ministry basement on Dec 3, 2019. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
Red, 28, said she has traveled through Austin six times over the past decade. A friend introduced her to the ministry three years ago, and since then she has utilized its services.
She participates in Girl’s Group, a peer support group that discusses topics such as toxic relationships and the difficulties that face women who live on the streets. If she hadn’t heard about the ministry, Red said, she would have died in Austin because she knew few people and didn’t know where to stay.
“I feel like we have a family, and that’s rare around here,” Red said. “Like we have our street family, but you can’t talk to your street family about certain things, you know, you’ve got to stay within the mindset of ‘I can survive.’”
Arthur also helped create the installation. He created a collection of rocks painted with single words of prayer like “love,” “pride,” and “joy.”

Halloween-themed prayer rocks that youth ministry client, Arthur, helped create, decorate the base of a tree outside the entrance to the Street Youth Ministry. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Arthur, 27, said he came to Austin four years ago with his former husband. When they divorced, he ended up on the streets. He said his “blood sister” told him Street Youth Ministry could help him, but he didn’t know if he would be accepted because of his sexual orientation. In other places he said he has felt out of place and unwelcome.

Street Youth Ministry client Arthur, whose nickname is Summer Rose, sings Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” during the weekly talent night on Nov. 20, 2019. Arthur, said the ministry has come to feel like a family to him. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Earlier this year, he said he was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Since the diagnosis, members of the ministry have prayed for him, Arthur said, and in return he has volunteered to prepare food, wash dishes and clean the space.
“It feels like I’m back at home with my own family,” Arthur said. “There’s no other place I would rather be than here. I don’t want to separate from the people that have taken care of me.”

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December 28, 2019

Street Youth Ministry Uses Art to Reframe Conversation on Homelessness


Reposting an article from Reporting Texas published on December 19, 2019

Street Youth Ministry 

Uses Art to Reframe

Conversation on Homelessness

Reporting Texas
A collection of purple, orange and green stones appeared in front of the Congregational Church of Austin in early October. The stones were decorated to resemble pumpkins, and some were painted with words of affirmation such as “love” and “pride.”

A prayer garden made of painted rocks marks the entrance to the Street Youth Ministry’s facility in the basement of the Congregational Church on 23rd Street in Austin, Texas. The rocks are a way for the ministry to draw attention to the positive impact of its mission. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Throughout November and December, more art popped up: a face and scarf on the tree in front of the church, colorful chalk art messages on the sidewalk and hearts and peace symbols stenciled on planter pots.
The group responsible for the guerilla art was Street Youth Ministry, which wanted to draw attention to the ministry and positively impact the thousands of people who pass the building every day, said Terry Cole, the ministry’s founder. He said the ministry began creating the installations after the Austin City Council lifted a camping ban and made other changes in the city’s approach to homelessness, which sparked contentious debate.

An art installation created by Street Youth Ministry clients showcases their desire to send a positive message to the community. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
“We really just wanted to say to the neighborhood: ‘We love you, and we want to be kind to you as well,’” said Suzanne Zucca, Street Youth Ministry staff member.
Nestled in the heart of West Campus, Street Youth Ministry is located in the basement of the Congregational Church of Austin. The faith-based ministry is a day center that assists young people experiencing homelessness. Staffers refer to them as clients.

Volunteers of Street Youth Ministry set up arts and crafts for clients to make nativity scenes and angels. The program offers  practical things like clothing, counseling and food, but its goal is “to know, love and serve street-dependent youth so they might come to know Christ,” according to its annual report. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
According to its mission statement, the goal of the ministry is “to know, love and serve street-dependent youth so they might come to know Christ through the witnessing community we develop.” According to the ministry’s 2018 annual report, it provides clients with “practical things to help meet immediate needs.” Cole said the ministry is not an overnight facility.

Volunteers, such as Lorena Garza, a UT-Austin social work freshman, play a crucial role in the ministry by cleaning and organizing the basement of the Congregational Church, where the program is housed. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The ministry offers a variety of services: access to food, counseling, clothing and gear such as bicycles and sleeping bags. Founded in 2008, the ministry serves about 600 clients up to 28 years old every year.
According GuideStar, a service that reports on U.S. non-profits, the ministry reported $492,267 in gross receipts during its most recent fiscal year. According to the ministry’s 2018 year-end report, 45% of its income is from private individuals and 30% is from in-kind giving. Additional funding comes from grants, churches and other sources. According to the report, 94% of every dollar spent by the ministry goes toward program services with the remaining 6% allotted to administration and fundraising.
Cole said the ministry employs eight staffers as guidance counselors and resources on matters related to drugs, physical and mental health and safe sex practices.

Street Youth Ministry volunteer Lorena Garza, left, plays dominoes with Deon Watts, right, and another client of the Street Youth Ministry during a weekly game night on Nov. 19, 2019.  Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The team is trained to handle difficult situations and deal with people in crisis, but Cole said team members are not doctors, social workers or licensed therapists. Nearly 1,000 individuals volunteer with the ministry every year, Cole said.

Patrick Hudson, left, removes a block from a giant Jenga set while volunteering at the Street Youth Ministry’s weekly game night with other UT-Austin students Shad Khan, center, and Nuvia Cruz. The ministry’s proximity to the University allows students to accumulate volunteer hours for class and service organizations. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Austin’s homeless population has remained relatively steady since the ministry began its work.
According to the Point In Time Count compiled annually by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, 2,087 people were counted in 2010. The lowest recorded number, 1,832, occurred in 2015. In 2019, the number of individuals increased to 2,255; 50% were between the ages of 18-44.
According to ECHO, the leading factors contributing to homelessness include inadequate access to health care, lack of engagement in school or employment and time spent in juvenile detention or jail.

Two members visit the Street Youth Ministry basement to have a meal and fill out paperwork on Dec 3, 2019. The ministry opens everyday at 12 p.m. and provides a safe space for people 28 years old and younger. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
In July, when the city passed an ordinance that decriminalized sitting, lying and camping in public places, people who had been sleeping in the woods and other unsafe areas started sleeping on the streets, Cole said. A population that had been hidden became more visible.
In reaction to the heightened visibility, Gov. Greg Abbott retweeted a video of a man attacking a car in downtown Austin. It was later revealed that the video was over a year old and the person recorded was not experiencing homelessness. Cole said the misleading post had a negative impact on public perception of homeless people and a “scarring” effect on the city.

A sign posted at the 23rd street Artist’s Market notifies visitors that the Street Youth Ministry cleans the area. The ministry’s staff hope the message will counter some negative perceptions of people experiencing homelessness. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
The idea for the art installation emerged amid this conversation. Cole said he wanted people walking by their building to notice a positive change and reflect on how the ministry is serving its clients.
Two clients who worked on the installation agreed to talk to Reporting Texas but declined to give their full names.
Red said she painted a rock that resembles a “golden ghost” the day she was taken to jail for having too many unpaid tickets. By the time she got out of jail, other clients had added the face to the tree in front of the building.

Red, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, laughs as her friend pulls out a bullhorn while they sit near the entrance of the Street Youth Ministry basement on Dec 3, 2019. Alexander Thompson/Reporting Texas
Red, 28, said she has traveled through Austin six times over the past decade. A friend introduced her to the ministry three years ago, and since then she has utilized its services.
She participates in Girl’s Group, a peer support group that discusses topics such as toxic relationships and the difficulties that face women who live on the streets. If she hadn’t heard about the ministry, Red said, she would have died in Austin because she knew few people and didn’t know where to stay.
“I feel like we have a family, and that’s rare around here,” Red said. “Like we have our street family, but you can’t talk to your street family about certain things, you know, you’ve got to stay within the mindset of ‘I can survive.’”
Arthur also helped create the installation. He created a collection of rocks painted with single words of prayer like “love,” “pride,” and “joy.”

Halloween-themed prayer rocks that youth ministry client, Arthur, helped create, decorate the base of a tree outside the entrance to the Street Youth Ministry. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Arthur, 27, said he came to Austin four years ago with his former husband. When they divorced, he ended up on the streets. He said his “blood sister” told him Street Youth Ministry could help him, but he didn’t know if he would be accepted because of his sexual orientation. In other places he said he has felt out of place and unwelcome.

Street Youth Ministry client Arthur, whose nickname is Summer Rose, sings Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” during the weekly talent night on Nov. 20, 2019. Arthur, said the ministry has come to feel like a family to him. Joshua Guenther/Reporting Texas
Earlier this year, he said he was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Since the diagnosis, members of the ministry have prayed for him, Arthur said, and in return he has volunteered to prepare food, wash dishes and clean the space.
“It feels like I’m back at home with my own family,” Arthur said. “There’s no other place I would rather be than here. I don’t want to separate from the people that have taken care of me.”

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March 19, 2015

Clients Enjoy Art Supplies


Here is more art created by our clients.

Donating just $5 will help us buy more art supplies so clients can continue to create art.

Thank you!

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March 17, 2015

Art Supplies Spurs Creativity


If you can, please donate $5 to help buy art supplies for our clients; they can keep expressing themselves.

Click here.

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April 29, 2014

Express Yourself



A supporter sent these for our clients to better express themselves! 



Many thanks!

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March 6, 2014

A Tree


Sharing art created by a street youth.

A palm tree?

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April 3, 2009

Art Therapy


I recently had the privilege of leading an art therapy group of street kids yesterday. It was impromptu but oh such a blessing to me and (I hope) to them. This was a group of street youth with whom I have been building trust for some time, although there were youth in the group that I didn’t know at all.

I began by handing out a sheet of blank paper and some pencils and markers. They are familiar with art sessions, so some were eager. Often they have free art or assignments, but I told them today would be different. I wasn’t going to tell them what to draw, but I was going to tell them what to think. Naturally, they were skeptical and a few popped off with jokes. However, the trust level was high enough that they waited for instruction.

I asked them to think of themselves and then think of another person. It should be someone they have a relationship with… past, present, or future. It could be someone specific, or it could be someone they want to have a relationship with. Some blurted out past friends and other blurted out the names of sexy superstars.

I told them their assignment was to think hard about the relationship between themselves and the person. What did it look like? What color was it? What did it make them think of? How did it make them feel? While they were still thinking of all these things, I wanted them to draw whatever came to mind. Surprisingly (to me) they each got this abstract assignment right away and started drawing.

A group of street youth are like most groups of people… some have great drawing talent and some don’t have as much developed talent. One youth started drawing like a savant in the movies… his hand never stopped and his picture just became more and more detailed… although it had a great cartoon-like characteristic. Some youth (and me) drew very primitive drawings in 2-D. Some youth were totally abstract and drew images based on the relationship. Some were very concrete and drew great depictions of themselves and the person and the type of things they held in common.

As each youth finished, I asked the group to stop and listen to the youth describe the relationship. Confidentiality prevents me from sharing the drawings or stories with you, but it was very moving. Some youth talked about current significant others. Some talked about a future life. Some talked about damaging relationships and how they hoped to heal from them someday. Some talked about supportive relationships with people they had lost contact with or people who had died.

This exercise left me amazed at how complex we all are. We experience this life in connection with others no matter whether we embrace relationships or whether we avoid them. Relationships come from all sorts of sources (relatives, friends, family, fantasy) and with all sorts of intentions (loving, hurtful, supportive, damaging, healing). We attribute many of our struggles to difficult relationships and perhaps we are totally right about that.

After doing this for 5 years (and one of my mentors has been doing this for more like 25 years so I know that I’m still a “newbie”), I’m totally convinced that the one characteristic that all homeless share (or come the closest to sharing) is the lack of an effective support network. They aren’t connected anymore. And I’m convinced that relief is great, but healing won’t occur and their life won’t be full until they are able to form and maintain an effective support network.

The greatest relationship of all that waits for most of the street youth is a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Some have this relationship already, but it’s quite rare, I would say. The majority have encountered and evaluated the concepts of a relationship with God (through the eyes of family members, friends, or Christians they have encountered along their journey) and rejected them. (And I would say the two top reasons for rejection are that they youth judged the person to be hypocritical or the youth felt judged by the person who was conveying the Christian message.) However, my calling is to reintroduce them one more time to a restoring and life transforming relationship with God. And I know the youth yearn for this relationship. About 25% of the pictures drawn had an element that included a restored relationship with the “universe”, with God, or that mourned a lost relationship with someone who had brought order into their life. In most cases, religion and church were directly mentioned as characteristics of the person who had once anchored their life but who had been lost to them through death or separation.

Let us pray that continued planting of seeds, continued patience, and continued love by the body of Christ will eventually enable a restored relationship! Amen.