Posts tagged ‘urban homeless youth’

September 26, 2013

Seeds that Matter


Street Youth Ministry has several missional communities within the UT student body. Missional communities is a very wide topic, and I frankly don’t know everything about it… perhaps even very little. I just want to present the case that it matters. Our MC is not bible study; it’s not preaching; and it’s not worship. It’s not even always churchy or obviously religious in nature. 
Simple Communities Loosely Bound
Our MC is composed of students who have seen the homelessness around the UT campus and who want to respond compassionately. One MC gathers at the CHOP regularly to share a breakfast with hungry young homeless people and to help them express some attitudes about prayer, God, and faith in a safe place. We don’t preach; we don’t admonish or warn. MC members–student from UT usually, simply sit with homeless young people and share answer to simple questions like “I’m thankful for what?” “What’s going on in my life is ____.” and “What do I want God to do in my life?” We require everyone to agree or even have the same ideas about God. We just hang out and share these simple things from our heart. 
Another MC meets on Fridays at 4pm to simply go out on the street and meet homeless people in the campus neighborhood. We take simple sandwiches, snacks, socks, and toiletries to give away if it would help. But the main purpose is to simply check-in with people and find out how they are doing. The MC meets about 25 people each week, about 5 new people each week. Out time spent together isn’t about giving stuff away. It’s about sharing a little of yourself. Stopping to talk and listen to a homeless person who lives in the UT neighborhood. Finding out how they day has been. Finding out where they have been and where they are going. We always ask “How can we be praying with you? What would you like God to be doing in your life?” They usually have answers and we share those answers with prayer warriors who pray during the week.
Seeds of Change Planted in Community
So how is this missional? We see change start to occur all the time. Homeless people served are impressed that people take the time to be with them. And when they find out it’s a Christian group, they are usually even more surprised. Often they share their experiences with “church” from the past, usually negative. MC members listen and don’t argue. They try to understand. We often apologize for how it’s been for them. We tell them that has little to do with Jesus. We even sometimes get to recommend churches that we believe will be welcoming to our homeless friends on Sunday. Frequently they go. Sometimes they find a new church home. Many times a semester, they reconnect with God in a significant way. And a couple times a semester they connect with Jesus for the first time and the church gets the privilege of baptizing them. And a newly baptized homeless person can be an amazing evangelist!
But that’s not all that happens in our MC. The MC members are transformed. We have no criteria for joining our group except a willingness to serve and to try to develop compassion. MC members sometimes have an inactive prayer time or inactive worship life when they come. But as they learn and develop compassion, they often find their Christian life invigorated! Not all MC members are Christian. Some are from other faiths or of no faith. As the MC experiences God’s provision for homeless people right in our midst, it is often difficult to have no faith. Something begins to grow. MC members frequently find themselves moving toward stronger faith, sometimes even joining churches for the first time.
Missional Communities Matter
We know that our missional communities make a difference. They make a difference to the homeless people served. These people are loved well by our community. It impacts their lives in a very positive way. We also know that our MC members grow closer to one another and to God by their activities. They find themselves more aware of God’s presence in their live daily and of their need for Jesus every step of the way. And it’s in community that any of this is possible. Simple, non-churchy, accepting community.

Join us at SYM.

  

 “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

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/09/seeds-that-matter.html

September 3, 2013

Why Greeters and Hospitality/Helper Volunteer’s Matter


We ask that every one of our events have at least two greeters or hospitality helpers. Some have wondered why. We’ll try to explain the benefits to our clients by YOU being present for them.
First, we try to get friendly greeters. Your smile and laughter mean a lot to our clients. You taking time to show-up for them speaks volumes. It speaks in a voice and a currency that we alone cannot match. It says, “I took time today to try to get to know you a bit and help you out today.”
Second, you’re a visitor to our event. We run each event weekly and try to make them pretty much the same from week to week so that everyone knows what to expect. We challenge our clients, and it’s not unusual for a first time client to be unable to do everything we offer them the chance to share: prayer, asking about God, talking about Christian experiences, working on options, etc. As a visitor, you often bring a little variety into each event. It’s very welcome and they look forward to who might come today. 
Third, you help our clients with your presence. Everyone acts differently when a visitor comes into their home. The same thing happens at our events. Just by being present, you help everyone give their very best behavior.
Forth, you allow me to focus on clients. Greeters and hospitality helpers focus on the room, the food, getting people settled, requests. Terry is free therefore to focus on how each client is today, giving those who might need more attention, checking in with those we know to be struggling, and encouraging those we know to be gaining ground.
Your role as a helper is crucial. And so is the role of intern. Please prayerfully consider signing-up today. You can pick a spot or you can sign-up to be available for monthly assignments.


 

“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

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/09/why-greeters-and-hospitalityhelper.html

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


via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/08/generating-excitement.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.”
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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
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

July 8, 2013

Top Three Things I’d Do


I was asked recently a great question while speaking at All Saints’ Episcopal Church while presenting the ministry there to a group of 45 interested people. These were largely not novices at serving homeless people because they have several ministries there that directly serve homeless. The question was “If money weren’t an issue, what are the top three things you would do to help your clients.”
First, I’m going to give a different answer that I often give to parents of street youth asking what they should do. Here are my top three things that I think a parent should do if they have a street-dependent youth living on the streets of the USA:
A) Get your son or daughter a low end phones with internet. They are regularly on sale for $50 to $80. They may have it stolen from them, so don’t buy anything more. Purchase by the month a pre-paid plans ($35 or $40 per month gets unlimited texting, internet and calling). Don’t do a contract. Just stick with month by month. Your child can now keep in touch with friends of their choosing. They may even choose to stay in touch with you. They can research places where they can get help and call them. They can stay active on social medias. It’s a true lifeline. It’s not really a luxury in the USA.
B) Offer to purchase a hotel room about two nights a month to give your child a break. Living in constant crisis with no breaks leads to all sorts of physical, mental and emotional problems. Pay by phone and tell them not to give any type of cash refund for early check-out.
C) When your child decides to get a job and move from the street, help with deposit and living expenses for the first two weeks until they get paid. I would setup a bank account that you can both access and another that only you can access. Put money into the latter and setup a daily automatic transfer for a small amount into the first. Don’t’ micro-manage but don’t provide additional moneys beyond what you agree. They have to learn to make it but deposits and those first two weeks can be giant obstacles.
Now back to the question asked by the audience member. What would SYM do with unlimited funding? We are a faith-based organization. So first, we would make sure Christian volunteers and churches are used throughout the programs described below. We’d be an excellent employer of a volunteer coordinator and a communications coordinator. Together, volunteer and coordinators would:
1) Run a hostel with a kitchen. Active clients who attend indoor events at least three times this month, would get one room night (or something like that) and the option to exchange working at reception, kitchen, garden, or cleaning for additional room nights. All management and supervision jobs would be given to recovering street youth. Day labor jobs would be available in exchange for a room-night. This would be a legitimate hostile and we would welcome paying guests as well.
2) Operate a training center that works with some recognizable names in training to provide computer skills for real life (running a computer base cash register, waitress station, receptionist stations, etc.) and training in customer service. We’d operate a doggie day care offering grooming, walking and boarding services to the local neighborhood using clients who have been trained. They would compete for a set of “management” positions but all graduates of training classes could get overnight security, reception, advertising, crate cleaning, dog walking, and dog washing jobs.​
3) Augment government grants for school. FAFSA and governments grants do a great job for most homeless youth willing to attend community college. We’d only pick up certain outliers: felons, people who refused to register for draft, people who can’t satisfy residency, etc. We’d continue to buy college books for all clients who go to school and continue to qualify for government aid.
4) (a bonus) Form a hiring agency “co-op.” Clients join by paying a small amount each week (possibly even as low as $0.50). In return they can be selected by the membership as the “candidate.” All members work hard to get the “candidate” a job, pooling knowledge, networks, and talking straight to the “candidate” about clothing, hygiene, interview skills, attitude, presentation, habits, etc. The candidate signs a contract with the co-op to direct deposit 10% of paycheck for 3 months back to the co-op. Weekly paid members receive published job resources as well as snacks and access to meetings. The co-op pays other members of the group to watch pets or belongs of candidates.
5) (a double bonus) Form a detox facility for substance abuse. We would be a place willing to take in street youth client (attending at least 3 SYM indoor events in the month) for the purpose of detoxing from drugs or alcohol. They would stay there until a bed can be found in a longer term program. The goal of the detox facility is to always be able to get a spot open within 3 days. This would form a bridge buffer to rehab facilities that typically can only free a bed in 2-3 weeks. Two to three weeks is an eternity for a street-dependent youth.

Join our efforts to support Austin street youth. 


“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Text or call: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: doodle.com/terry.cole

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-three-things-id-do.html

June 10, 2013

Grateful Message from a Recovering Client


We try hard to keep up with recovering clients and clients who are not in Austin. We use email, Facebook, and SMS message. We got this voice message today from a client who’s working and reached out to us with a prayer request in frustrating few days…
Hey Terry, I’m on my break, so I only have a few more minutes. But I just want to give you a call and tell you thank you so much. Because every single time my faith seems to start to waiver–and things get too much, you remind me of Who I need to turn to. And I really appreciate that Terry. And I really appreciate you. Thank you for everything you do for the street kids, and thank you for everything you did for me when I was on the street. Thank you for all that you do. We ALL appreciate you so much. Alright. Bye.
We love to hear from clients! Drop us a line on FB, by text, or by email. 

Support SYM.


“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Text or call: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
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via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/06/grateful-message-from-recovering-client.html

June 8, 2013

“There’s nothing better”


Yesterday in our weekly prayer time, a client started a sentence with “There’s nothing better than the feeling you get when…” That got my attention. The client had been quietly reflecting on our prayer time and filling out a brief worksheet designed to help him take something personal away from the group prayer time.
I asked him to repeat the sentence for everyone. “There is nothing better than the feeling you get when someone gets their crap together and gets off the street. It’s so great when they come back to visit.” He went on to describe how happy he was for several clients from Austin and from his home town of El Paso that have gotten clean, housed, employed and “together.”
We love it when clients come back to visit, too! We agree with our client, but we add one thing: there is nothing better than the feeling you get when a client gets their stuff together and claims their rightful place in God’s Kingdom!
In the rest of the prayer time, clients shared what it’s going to be like then they get their stuff together. I’ll be clean. My family will accept me. I’ll be completely sober. I’ll change my habits. I’ll have a nice place. I’ll be a good dad. I’ll start a career. I’ll make music every day. I’ll see doctors who keep me healthy. 
Join us that these prayers come true, and that our clients do find their place in the sun in God’s Kingdom!



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

Become a fan on Facebook!

Text or call: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: doodle.com/terry.cole

Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Blogger YouTube Google Plus

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/06/theres-nothing-better.html

October 20, 2008

How can I help?


This is a difficult blog to write. But I’m trying to take the topics that I committed to write on in order and knock them out! Why is “How can I Help” hard to write about? Because, frankly, the task seems hard, scary, and even hopeless sometimes. What do we do when this is true? Well that’s but subject of another blog (and one that I heard an excellent speech on by Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission). For now, suffice it to say that since we recognize it’s a hard problem, it is worthy of attention of the body of Christ. Since it’s a scary problem, we need to recognize that God does not call us to do more than our share. He will do the most important work… we just have to show up and do our part. Finally, since it seems like a hopeless problem at times, we have no choice but to lean back into the arms of our loving Savior and let him support the work.

Back to the question. 
How can we help homeless street youth? I think the answers depend on where you live — specifically on whether you live in a large urban place or in small town — and on your temperament. Let me expand on this.
If you live in a rural area or a small town, you might think, “Oh, this is not my problem. This is an urban problem only.” However, I think you’re mistaken. According to the youth I work with, they often go to small towns. They find them hospitable and less stressful. They go to your small town to see friends, get away from the city, and to recover a bit. They hitch hike into your town, they may ride a train and jump off near your town, or they may have a friend to take them there. The drawback of a small town for them is that there are usually few organized shelters, social outreach agencies. So the homeless youth will need to depend on the kindness of individuals, either working individually or called upon from churches or agencies not really focused on homeless youth. You are critical to care for homeless youth in small towns!
If you live in an urban setting, you are going to see lots of homelessness today. There is just no way to escape it. In fact, it’s very hard not to become callous and crass toward the homeless population. You will seem them “flying signs” (begging for money) at busy intersections. You will see them “spanging” (asking for spare change) on a busy street. You may see them congregating near the city center, usually in a place where young people already hang out (e.g., a university or college). You may see them camping out in more out of the way greenbelts or parks. There are lots of social organizations on which they can depend, but they need something from you as an individual as well.
In both cases, rural and urban, homeless youth need a humanizing loving face to smile at them. You need to see the youth and acknowledge them. I think this can be easier in a rural setting sometimes. Frankly, they do not often finding loving faces in the urban environment. Even the social agencies who are there to help the homeless are not often happy to see them because of all the difficulties and troubles one faces in an urban environment. The agencies are often overrun with supplicants, the social workers are tired and emotionally drained, the range of services is severely limited after almost a decode of curtailed governmental social policies. However, these agencies provide valuable social work that the homeless simply cannot exist without… access to mental health and medical assistance, access to shelter programs, access to your tax dollars for food, shelter and education. And many agencies do provide loving faces, too! These agencies each need the support of yourself in the form of advocacy for their agencies, financial support of their work, and volunteers to help keep things fresh.
What about church organizations? You can help out through church organizations that support the homeless. I believe that church organizations are critical to the care of homeless youth. Social work alone is not enough. And this applies to urban as well as rural areas. However, the programs will be more defined in urban areas out of necessity. It is important that the faces of the church workers be loving. Whatever you are doing for the homeless youth, you must love them first to be effective.
Depending on your personal temperament, you can choose to work through a social agency or a church organization. What about individual efforts? Should you give to the youth directly? This is a very difficult question. I do not want to oversimplify it, but given people’s intense interest in this subject I feel I must say something. First, I have found only two guidelines that I can solidly stand behind… (Guideline 1) Don’t work alone on the street. Take someone with you. Always. (Guideline 2) Whatever you choose to give individually to a homeless street youth, if you can give it with a loving message of acceptance and hope, it is probably worthwhile giving it.
(Guideline 1) I don’t want you to think that all homeless street youth are dangerous. They absolutely are not as a whole. However, they are programmed for survival. They do odd things. Things they later regret. They can overreact to things to which we are not well attuned (e.g., physical threatening body language that might seem normal among your friends, hearing things literally in ways you do not, hearing things in terms of their past experiences which you obviously don’t share, hearing and thinking about time differently than you do). However, if you work in pairs, you are very unlikely to get into trouble if you confine your work to agencies, churches, and public places where there are people around. I work with people who have done street work for 20 years or more, and we all agree: don’t work alone.
(Guideline 2) You will hear and be encouraged not to give money to homeless people. However, I must say that they could not survive without money, and they often have no legitimate access to money. It’s that simple. When you give something to a homeless person… anything…, it can always be converted to cash. (A bus ticket can be sold to a commuter for 1/2 price. A meal can be swapped around the corner for a couple of bucks to someone who wants the meal more.) And cash can be turned into alcohol, drugs, and other hurtful things. This is a fact and one we have to accept if we want to work with most homeless youth. However, I contend that if we give our gift with a message of love and hope, it is worth the risk. 
I confess that I rarely give out cash. This fact is understandable to many of those youth I work with but is a source of confusion for other among them. They say, “If I truly love them and want to take care of them, why would I not give them money?” It is a good question. I allow God to show me those occasions when it seems to be OK. On those rare occasions when I am able to give out cash with a message of love and hope, I am convinced it is no worse than giving out of sandwiches. (Flame suit on… I know this is controversial, and I myself can rarely bring myself to give cash… I believe it is because I find it hard to deliver the message of love with the cash.) However, if I were to give out cash by tossing it in a box without looking at the person and without telling them I’m sorry that I’m not able to help them in more specific ways, I have dehumanized both of us and this is not love. I look like an ATM to them, and they look like… well… I don’t even want to write it down. But I don’t think they look like a neighbor whom I love and want to care for. So what do I give? I give out socks. I give out bus passes. I give time spent with them listening. I give time spend tutoring them in pre-algebra so they can pass a test. It rarely seems like enough, but I have to remember that I can only do my part. God it bigger than the problem and I have to trust it to Him.
We must give love first. And to do that, we have to truly love them as they are. They are not perfect. They are not going to change so that we can love them. They are not going to stop living on the street, stop drinking, stop using, start believing so that we will love them. We have to love them first. Then we are freed to look for ways we can help.