Posts tagged ‘homeless youth’

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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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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November 29, 2017

Report: State should form task force to tackle youth homelessness


By 

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new report about youth homelessness in Texas highlights a need for comprehensive policies and a funding stream to address the ongoing issue.
Texas Appleseed partnered with Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) and conducted more than 100 interviews with youth who had experienced or are experiencing homelessness in Texas. Both groups also pulled data from state agencies related to youth.
Clair Cole, 19, became homeless when she was 16. “I had a lot of struggles connecting with family especially in that time of my life,” she said. “I was going through a lot. They were going through a lot.”
Cole relied on couch surfing to find places to stay. But as time passed, it became harder. “[I was] feeling like I was a burden, a lot of just trying to sink into the background and just be there without being there,” she said.
She’s now 19, received her GED and has her own small business making jewelry. She also serves as a Lifeworks Youth Ambassador in Austin, raising awareness about what services are available under their provider program.
“I would never want anyone to experience the feeling of not feeling welcome in your own home,” she said.
Lifeworks says each evening it shelters or houses more than 140 youth. There’s also a counseling division for individuals and families who deal with abuse, trauma, anxiety or other stressors.
“If I had known there was an emergency shelter, I would’ve gone straight there,” she said.
The report by Texas Appleseed and TNOYS says each year, at least 1,000 students who have dealt with homelessness repeat a grade and 1,400 drop out. It also says youth in foster care are in high risk of becoming homeless. In 2016, a total of 1,250 youth aged out of foster care on their 18th birthday. In that same year, more than 1,000 children in Texas ran away from a foster care placement.
Gabriella McDonald, the pro bono and new projects director for Texas Appleseed, said schools are on the front lines of this issue, but too often, it’s hard to track.
“Sometimes, schools don’t find out they have youth who [are] experiencing homelessness until they have someone who is about to graduate and it’s time to pay for their cap and gown,” McDonald said.
Both organizations have recommended that Texas form a statewide task force led by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. They also want lawmakers to form a dedicated funding source to support prevention and intervention services for at-risk and homeless youth.
“There’s state funding for youth, there’s state funding for homelessness, but there’s not state funding for youth who are homeless,” McDonald said.
Terry Cole runs Street Youth Ministry. The organization holds several relationship-building events, focused around art, guidance counseling and teamwork.
“We meet them where they are,” he said. He said too often youth who face homelessness are stigmatized and viewed differently.

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November 30, 2016

New Space for Street Youth Along Guadalupe to Open in January – By KATE GROETZINGER


Missionary & Founder of Street Youth Ministry Terry Cole speaks with local area youth in the hall of the Congregational Church.
In a room at the Austin Congregational Church, Terry Cole talks with 10 young adults. They’ve come to see Cole, but also to eat. 
When  Cole was laid off of his job as an engineer in 2008, he decided to dedicate his life to rehabilitating young people living on the street around UT. By his account, homeless youth have called the West Campus neighborhood near Guadalupe Street known as “the Drag” home since at least the 1970s.
Every Tuesday, Cole holds court at the Congregational Church, where he invites young homeless people from 18 to 30 years old to come eat. His organization, Street Youth Ministry, serves homeless youth through events held in churches around UT.
According to Cole, the youth he serves have always been drawn to the neighborhood around the university for the same reason other young people are.
“Young people like to hang out with young people. That’s just a universal fact,” Cole said. “They are separating from parents and they want to hang out with each other, and the center of young people in Austin is undeniably the 40 Acres.”
Jerome Ray, a client of Street Youth Ministry, is one of these young people. He says he likes to hang out with students at the residential co-ops in the neighborhood. But, when he hits the drag, he is treated differently than the students he befriends.
“Two weeks ago I went into Medici Café,” Ray said. “And, when I walked in the guy was like, ‘Hey, you need to buy something.’ And I was like, ‘Do you talk like that to all your customers, or is it just because my pants are dirty? It’s just because my pants are dirty, huh?’”
Cole says the police also treat homeless youth differently. Ever since the murder of UT student Haruka Weiser by a young homeless person last spring, Cole says the neighborhood has been hostile toward his clients, as well as his ministry. 
Cole speaks with two clients at Congregational Church.
“Around the first of March in 2016, the West Campus neighborhood united in a very solid message that said, ‘We are getting rid of homeless young people’” he said. “It was actually prior to the murder.”
Cole says he’s seen the number of homeless youth in the neighborhood decrease by half of what it was in 2015, when it spiked due to people in the area making and using the drug K2 on the street.
“The community has demanded the presence of the police, and it has without question improved the safety on the street. Unless you’re a young homeless person looking for services, then they feel pretty unsafe right now,” Cole said.
Cole is focused on rebuilding trust between homeless youth and the West Campus community. He encouraged his clients to come up with a way to give back to the neighborhood, and they decided to “own” the alley behind AT&T and Jamba Juice on the drag.
“And by ‘own’ they mean they want to document its deplorable condition and make it better,” he said. “And they want to go to business owners and say, ‘Look, we’re doing this and we’re going to keep doing this. We’re part of your neighborhood, and we’re not all bad.’”
Street Youth Ministry will move into its first brick and mortar location at the corner of San Antonio and 23rd Street in January. The space is currently a drop-in clinic for homeless youth operated by LifeWorks, which lost funding for the space this year.
“There are seven rooms in the space, and I’m partnering with different organizations – mostly churches, but they don’t have to be – to outfit the rooms with supplies for creative self expression, like music and art, and meditation. I think it will become a destination for homeless youth in the neighborhood.”
Cole’s work with homeless youth goes beyond what he calls the “core services” provided by the LifeWorks clinic – some of which Street Youth Ministry will continue to provide when they move into the location. Cole specializes in what he calls “relationship services”, working with his clients to help them achieve stability and get off the streets permanently.
“I think it’s just really important that people realize there’s a positive outcome here,” he said. “They don’t become career homeless people, and it’s why they need special help, and it’s why we’re here.”
Ultimately, Cole hopes to change the perception of street youth around UT. He says that the majority of the youth he works with get off the street within a year and half of deciding to do so.  

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August 23, 2013

Generating Excitement


SYM recently was invited to “table” at a Christian ministry fair for incoming freshmen at the University of Texas. We did this last year and it was pretty successful. We did get one or two new volunteers from the effort. This year I set goals of (a) not doing this alone, (b) giving out at least 50 brochures, and obtaining at least 25 emails on our iPAD of people who’d like to be reminded with more information once school starts.
I asked the president of our new student organization at UT, Friends of Street Youth, to help me find a volunteer to do. And I asked a regular volunteer to go around at one of our fellowship events for clients and find two clients willing to help out with the event. So with a couple of people to go with me, a schedule and a plan for the tabling event, we set off.
We quickly setup the table. It looked great. By using an iPAD, we kept things simple. We had a few photos of UT students interacting with clients at events and a call to action: Please share your email address on your iPAD or text it to us to get more information.
There were 200 students at Ignite. They came into the fair in three groups. My volunteers went to work. It was awesome! They did such a great job of quickly explaining what we do and then asking if the student would like to get involved.
I listened to a client tell it this way: “We help 60 to 80 street kids on the edge of UT campus every week. We help them with food, clothing, prayer, Bible study and such.” He would stop to let the student ask for me or say something. “Sounds cool. What do I do?” He would continue, “We need your help with events every day. You just hang out with street youth. It really works. This is me in the picture. And now I’m going to start college on August 23!”
We gave out 139 brochures, far surpassing my goal. And we collected email addresses from 54 freshmen who want to know more about SYM! But the best part came later.
Since I didn’t really have any role at the fair outside of planning and getting the people there, I walked around. I found a group of students bunched together at the end of one of “groups.” One girl was very animated and excited. I could see she had a SYM flyer in her hand. She was telling all her small group how exciting SYM was and how cool it was to see a life transformed. She couldn’t wait to volunteer. I offered the whole group flyers and they all took them. Now that’s excitement!
Come and join us!

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”

Become a fan on Facebook!Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

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August 7, 2013

Recovery and Integration


During recovery counseling, we often encourage clients to separate the bad things they do from themselves. We talk of “the addiction” or “the urge to steal” or whatever it is. And as the client regains balance, “the addiction” loses power and shrinks. And at some point, we encourage integration once again, the recognition that “the addiction” is within them and part of them. Eventually they can use that knowledge to be stronger and to be just exactly who they are.
This poem was written by a client in recovery with 12 steps, who was recently baptized, and who attends church and small groups regularly. This poem is about his “shadow self”–a dark part of himself that has driven the self-destructive behavior in his live for many years. He writes about what the shadow-self wants in order to gain power over if and to be free from it. While it’s dark, look at the consequences of knowing this! With knowledge and submission and humility, this client is free from sin and free to follow Christ! 
As you read this dark poem, remember that is is written in first person from the perspective of the thing within that wants to harm. The words of “the shadow” are full of desperate lies, hoping to gain control of what is not rightfully his. This client is free! And he knows the words are untrue! May it be so for all who seek recovery.
Shadow Mission
The thief in the night that stole my life
in an enemy’s grip that chokes the light.
Bending the soul, he buried the knife.
The blackness came in a bloody fight.
He said, “Here are the tools. Take what you want
from family and friends. Then you can flaunt
an arrogance that will make them blush,
while they speak of you in a quiet hush.
You don’t need them. You just need me.
No need to love touch and see.
How quickly and quietly their hearts will flee.
No need for salvation, a lord and savior.
You can run around in bad behavior.
The illusion of freedom I give to you
until I take everything, even your shoes.
Walk around the world your head stuck in glue.
Reach out for anyone, and no one is there.
The embrace of your loved ones becomes a blank stare.
Your hands always dirty with knots in your hair.
You’ve given up everything, the ability to care.
A cage in a cage with a side order of chains.
You hold me, your enemy, as I blow out your brains.
No keys can free you, I made you a slave.
Your only serenity becomes an unmarked grave.
You live as a coward, and envy the brave.
Your mine for eternity , unable to save.
Join us at SYM.
“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Become a fan on Facebook!Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

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July 30, 2013

What triggered such a big change from electrical engineering to humanitarian work?


I was at a dinner party the other day. The hostess asked me to explain what I did at Street Youth Ministry. [We don’t hijack dinner parties but we are please to share when supporters ask!] The next day, I got an email from one of the guests. He asked, “If I may ask, what triggered such a big change from electrical engineering to humanitarian work?”
It’s a long story, but the short answer is that this culture of “throwaway” youth broke my heart when I began volunteering by accident to serve them a meal once a month in 2003. As I learned more about them over time by listening and observing, I was so amazed by their strength and resilience to adversity. As I listened to them even more, I realized they were very spiritual as a whole, and they were hungry to hear God’s story but really had significant issues with “church” and “Christians.” One thing led to another, and here I am serving them daily to help them achieve for themselves stability, sobriety, reconnection to God and a Christian community. Our motto reflect my own journey with the street youth: to know, love and serve street-dependent young people so that some may come to know Christ.

Check out all the programs we offer and other information about SYM.

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole
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via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-triggered-such-big-change-from.html

July 23, 2013

A Client’s Perspective on What We Do


In response to our Blog on Big Things in Clients Lives, we received this comment. It paints a picture from the perspective of a client of what our supporters, volunteers and leaders do that is very eloquent.
As a former (really ongoing, as Terry’s care is always available and extended whenever I’m in the area) client, I can say that without Street Youth Ministry the Drag would be a much more cold and unforgiving place than it already is for street kids. Terry actually understands the intricacies of the traveling lifestyle[…][SYM] understands differentiation between traveling kids and displaced local youth but still extends [their] aid to both, as they both qualify. I still struggle with addiction every day, but I know I can always talk to Terry even if I’m on the other side of the country. We’d be a lot more stuck without [SYM], and I hope to see you again soon.
Together our supporters and volunteers make a big difference in the lives of about 80 clients every single week. We meet about 500 new clients every single year. And we love hearing from as many as possible through email, text messaging, Facebook, or when they visit Austin.

There are many ways to become involved with SYM.  

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
Who We Serve   What We Do   Get Involved  Support Us   News  Publications  Ministry Needs   Speaking   Service Projects   Sign-up

Become a fan on Facebook!Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole
Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-clients-perspective-on-what-we-do.html

March 14, 2010

Traveling Youth


Traveling kids are part of the street youth culture. These kids, unlike clients who stay in Austin, ride trains around the country. They get crusty and dirty. They come to town, stay a few days, and often move on. They don’t always fit in with the rest of the street youth. They are sometimes harder to get to know. And yet they are a joy to know when we get the chance.


At the beginning of outreach this past Friday, I saw a very experienced traveler named “Peter” sitting quietly on a church lawn. He was in an out-of-the-way corner with another younger traveler, “Joe”. As you can see from his photo, Peter’s appearance is very distinctive; he has tattoos all over and wears a lot of leather and metal. He clearly stays outside all the time, but his sleeping bag is good and his heavy pack is filled with gear and supplies. Peter was feeling terrible the day before and had been abrupt with others.  Still, I wanted to say “hello” again and offer both some outreach materials: food, water, and information. Peter is suffering from a set of things that are sometimes fatal to traveling kids-complications of a life led hard and fast. Sometimes they get over it… sometimes they don’t.

I said a prayer of healing for Peter as I approached the two of them. I smiled. I called Peter’s name. He looked surprised, probably thinking I was going to complain or ask him to move along. But then I saw that he recognized me. He smiled back. Today, he was in a better mood. 

“Hey! I’ve got some sandwiches and snacks. Need any?” I asked. He pointed to a box of food on the ground. “A dude name ‘SteamTrain’ just kicked down a bunch of sandwiches. I’m good. Full in fact.” “Wow! SteamTrain is back!” I exclaimed. “I haven’t seen him in…9 months or more. Wow! I can’t wait to see him again.” “He’s pretty famous. He’s been traveling a long time. It was cool to sit and talk with him this afternoon.” Then Peter asked, “Do you have any juice or something?” “I have drink flavoring and water. Would that do?” “That would be awesome! It helps take away the bad taste that sometimes hangs in your mouth.”

“I also have a goody bag. Would that help out?” He said, “Sure,” but it was half-hearted. I handed the full gallon zip-lock bags to him and his friend.  As he looked it over, I explained, “4th and 5th graders made them. I taught them about the things a traveler might want.  They put the bags together and put a note in each one. I taught them that you like some of the same things they do, so they each brought a toy from home to include.” Peter looked the bag over. He smiled and said, “This is the very best outreach bag I’ve ever received! Usually it’s just a pack of crackers, a bologna sandwich, and maybe a bar of soap. But this is packed with cool and useful things.” He read the note and said, ” Take my picture with it so the boy who made it can see and know that I really appreciate it! Oh my! There’s a P-38 can opener in here! This really rocks!”

   
[Peter’s note says, “God loves you. In the bag there are things for you. Love, Clayton.”]

Joe held his note up and said, “Let the boy know that I smiled when I read his note. This is so cool!” 

[Joe’s note says, “I hope this bag makes you smile. (heart). God loves you! M@dden”]

Both of these guys were new to Austin. I took the opportunity to give them a “Know your street rights” brochure. This booklet, prepared by some local lawyers, explains Austin laws pertaining to downtown and street folks. They were so appreciative. While they may be unable to choose to follow all the rules, they don’t want to cause trouble and prefer to know the rules. “We want to get along. We don’t want to ruin it for ourselves or others.” I noticed they had a bag and had picked up all the trash from around the area they were sitting.  “Thank you for doing that,” I said as I pointed to the bag. Joe got up and picked up even more trash from the whole lawn, obviously stuff that had been before they came along.

I said, “I guess it’s time for me to walk on. I’ve got more ground to cover today. I have a question, Peter. Would it be OK if I prayed for healing for you? I know you’ve been feeling bad and I know it can be very serious. I’d like to pray for you.” He said, “Of course, man. I’d love that. You’re a good man and your prayers might just help.”


The rest of the day of outreach was fantastic, perhaps one of the best days on street outreach that I can remember. I kept my promise and prayed for Peter several times that afternoon. I worked late into the evening because I had opportunities to lay hands and pray on one troubled young man, chances to offer drug counselling to a couple who hope to clean up soon, check-ins with at least four clients who are no longer on the street and working to maintain and improve their more stable lives, and the opportunities to meet and greet in the name of Jesus Christ more than 20 street-dependent individuals. 

As I drove away from my parking space that evening, Peter and Joe were peacefully sitting in the same place in the dark. I said one final prayer. “Lord, please help them pass the night peacefully. In their dreams, let them have visions of knowing you. Let them know the truth of who you are. Let them wake tomorrow with a need to respond to your love and a hunger to know more about you. In the night, repair Peter’s body and help him to make choices that will allow it to keep healing. Thank you for allowing me to minister to these two and all these others in Jesus’ name. Amen.”