Posts tagged ‘volunteer’

September 21, 2016

It’s never too early or late to dream

In seeking an entry-level job,
it’s never too early to dream …
Supporters say, “Why don’t they just get a job?” Clients say, “I just need a job!” Indeed, getting a job is their number one way off the streets, but getting the job isn’t really the issue. In our efforts to help our clients, we discovered three surprises about street youth and employment.
Surprise #1: most of our clients can get a job quickly. Austin’s economy is booming, and unemployment is low. Once clients start to apply, jobs come quickly. Take Georgia, for example. She came in this past month and said, “Shazaam! I got a job today. They hired me on the spot! I start tomorrow.” I had watched her behavior on the streets for a while, and I was skeptical things would go so quickly for her. Turns out, she was very good at navigating the interview for an entry-level job.

Surprise #2: most street youth leave new jobs soon, not because they are fired (as we had assumed), but because they quit! When we asked clients why, most told us they quit in order to avoid a social awkwardness they encounter at work. After her first week, Georgia came to us, worried. “Somebody told my boss I wasn’t doing a good job,” she said. “I guess this job is about over.” As we role-played her options, she said her first instinct was to tell off the “somebody,” a co-worker. She talked herself out of that. Her second idea was to plead her case with her boss, saying “I’m just a street girl doing the best I can.” We know from experience that it’s almost always a bad idea to disclose your homelessness. It raises stereotypes, if not fear or suspicion. “Just ask your boss for feedback,” we suggested. “If the boss is a straight shooter, any issues will be addressed.” Georgia plans to do this now, but if experience holds, she will quit soon for another reason:

Surprise #3: We have discovered through our Job Club efforts that it’s very important for clients to be looking for something they really want — even at entry level. In our weekly Job Club, we ask, “What is your dream job? Who or what company would you work for, no matter what you had to do?” I remember a frustrated young client named Jason giving this surprising answer: “I want to work in trend-setting marketing. I want to be involved in top fashion, top trends, top anything.” And he had just quit three food service jobs in a row! We helped him list entry-level jobs he knew in fashion: janitor at a mall, salesperson at a clothing store, model at an ad agency. Within a week he was selling swimwear! I ran into him not long ago and he’s still there. The job is not a soul-sucking grind, he said. He’s considering community college, is no longer on the streets and pays rent monthly!

We believe such an exercise will help Georgia find an entry-level job she can hold on to! So many of our clients delight and surprise themselves by finding meaningful and productive jobs to lift themselves from the streets. It’s never easy, and us “older folks” probably couldn’t manage a job, being homeless, feeding ourself, staying clean, and all that without a home. But our clients are strong, resilient and amazing! We are so blessed to get such a front-row seat to watch them develop. Thank you for being a part of it!

The opportunities we offer street youth — to wash clothes, eat a sandwich, get an ID, study the Bible, find a shirt that fits, provide bug repellent — help us make inroads into their lives. Positive results often follow! Volunteers who give of their time and in-kind donations play important roles. For more information on participating with SYM, click on the link below:

Click here for volunteer opportunities

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September 9, 2016

Church In Action

Your volunteering shows what the church, in action, REALLY looks like.

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September 8, 2016

Mascot at large!

Unconditional Love!

The Street Youth Ministry personality seen most often in the photographs we take is not the lead missionary, Terry Cole. It’s Rosie, Terry’s counseling dog, who seems to know exactly when to find her way into the frame before a shutter release is pushed. She provides untold comfort and companionship to clients and volunteers alike.

When Terry started the ministry, he studied a book on fundraising. There was literally a chapter in the book called “Don’t Buy a Dog.” It was about not intentionally increasing your cost of living when raising support. Lol!

About that time, Terry’s daughter chose a dog breed that would be perfect for the household. Non-allergenic, small, non-shedding, hardy, friendly. But Terry said, “No way. Now is not the time to buy a dog!” 
Within a couple weeks, we found ourselves on a family vacation together and riding one of those little tourist trains. The ride owner had two dogs that loved to ride with passengers and one of them hopped into Terry’s lap. Low and behold it was the type selected by Terry’s daughter. After the ride, the whole family was musing over this “coincidence” when the ride owner came up and said, “We have puppies for sale.” The whole family was shouting, “Please, please, please!” Terry kept to his mantra, “Now is not the time to buy a dog. And who buys a dog on vacation, anyway?”
A few days later on the trip, Terry called a family meeting. He shared that if the family would chip in to pay the purchase price, Terry would raise the funds for the medical bills for shots, spaying, etc. Everyone was quickly in accord and we cut short our trip to go pick up our sweet Rosie! Here she is on her ride home from Arkansas!

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January 8, 2015

What Does a Partner Do?

What can a partner do to serve our clients? Here is a list of some of the ways people help us. Let us know which item you’re interested in and we’ll get started! Contact us.

St. Edward’s University
  • University/Seminary Organization
    • Start or join our campus organization (Friends of Street Youth at UT). We also need a student chapter at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary – APTS, Concordia and St. Edwards!
    • Publicize and host an end of semester collection drop-off for needed items. We’ll cross promote the event to help get traction.
    • Table for us on campus to raise awareness . We’ll cross promote your event!
    • Host our participation at volunteer event in the spring or fall. We’ll cross promote to get lots of people out.

  • Near Campus
    • Let us use a room once a week.
    • Partner with us for a Christian film screening.

    • In Austin
    • City of Austin, TX
      • Do a drive for needed items at your place and deliver them.
      • Direct self-starting volunteer to our opportunities and let them report back to your group.
      • Invite us to speak to your group.
      • Be a public drop-off site and deliver items once a month.
      • Host one of our service projects.
      • Help us connect clients with your worship and discipleship studies by designating a connector or two that we can contact.

    • Anywhere
      • Agree to cross promote one blog or social media posting per week; we’ll reciprocate!
      • Do a drive for high-value but low weight/volume needed items and ship them to us.
      • Agree to host 2 or more of the following links on your web, indicating that you’re a partner. We’ll reciprocate by listing you on our web, too!
      • Agree to publish one of our blogs in your newsletter quarterly. We’ll cross promote your publication in return!
      • Promote our internship with appropriate students as one option for preparing for ministry. If you screen for interested students, we will contact them and discover if the internship is right for them.  We also will cross-link to your organization in return!

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    April 20, 2014

    Austin Or Far Away?

    Several areas where one can volunteer.

    Read all about it here.

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    April 13, 2014


    Do you like to bake?

    Do you have no one to bake for?

    Now you do.

    Sharing a photo of the goodies baked by a volunteer and her children.


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    April 6, 2014

    Are You Good With Food?

    Do you like to cook, or like to prepare food?

    If you have the time, you can volunteer as a food helper

    We thank GOD for all of our food helpers, past, present and future.

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    January 19, 2014

    A Volunteer Has a Wow Moment!

    This message comes from a volunteer at All Saints’ Episcopal Church who was part of the team preparing for our Christmas Party on Dec 20, 2013. 

    Jill wrote:

    “As you know, we have been reading Anne Lamott’s wonderful book, Help Thanks Wow, Three Essential Prayers.  I know we all have experienced these times and prayers in our lives.  But I just had to share a true WOW moment I recently had at HEB.  

    I was in HEB standing in line to check out.  The lady in front of me had her cart filled with 12 – 1 gallon jugs of apple cider.  I couldn’t stand it – I had to ask her what she was going to do with all that apple cider.  She said that it only comes out this time of year so she buys 12 gallons so she can drink one per month – that way it lasts her a long time.  

    I said “what if you drink more than one gallon in a month?”  She said she would just be skimpy the next month – kinda like rationing. We both laughed.  She said so many people in the store had said “Well, you’re having a party!”  She told me she doesn’t have parties much anymore.  

    As we talked, I just mentioned that we were having a party a week from Friday for 65+ kids.  She was amazed and asked me questions all about the kids  There was true amazement on her face when I told her they were all homeless.  But where do they stay, she asked.  I told her, on the streets.  

    Well, she started checking out. When she had paid and had moved her cart, she came back and said, “God bless you and since I bought all of this for myself, may I give you a donation for the kids.”

    I said that it wasn’t necessary but she insisted and discretely palmed off a wadded up bill into my hand.  I didn’t look at it and just put it wadded up in the top of my purse.

    When I got to my car, still with a grateful smile on my face, I looked at the bill and it was a 50 dollar bill!  

    I said, “WOW, THANKS.  God, you are so good!”  I still have a that grin on my face. What grateful joy!”

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    November 14, 2013

    Street Youth Reunited with Guitar

    “A talented volunteer from Street Youth Ministry repaired this street-dependent young person’s guitar. I think he’s happy to have it back, don’t you?”

    You can watch our videos about the Street Youth Ministry on our Youtube channel.

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    April 28, 2009

    LifeWorks Volunteer Spotlight: Terry Cole

    I was recently interviewed by Lifeworks volunteer coordinator and features on their website. I hope they will forgive me for quoting most of the article below:

    When Terry began volunteering for LifeWorks, he didn’t realize that it would turn into his life’s greatest passion. In August 2003, Terry was asked by a friend to serve a meal for homeless youth. He recalls that “My volunteer service at LifeWorks began on an unlikely note – I wanted to quit after my first hour. However, that hour turned into hundreds and changed my life!”

    LifeWorks wasn’t exactly like the service opportunities Terry had been previously afforded. In fact, he had just returned from a mission trip to Mexico before volunteering for LifeWorks. “My first experience at LifeWorks just didn’t have the personal element that the mission trip to Mexico had,” says Terry.

    However, after giving it a second chance Terry began to realize that he could connect with the youth of the Street Outreach Program, even if only for a minute. “I found that if I slowed down the serving, I could have almost 90 seconds with each young man or woman to say hi, to ask something about them, and to find out their names.” Every time Terry served a meal to the youth, he was able to continue his conversations and learn more about each person.

    After several years of serving meals to youth in the Street Outreach program, Terry was asked by the director of LifeWorks to engage the youth during the meals. To prepare him for longer converations, Terry was given training to follow the LifeWorks model for drawing out the youths’ strengths and encouraging them.

    Today, Terry has expanded his committment to Austin’s youth by taking his ministry to the streets. “I want to encourage you to get involved with LifeWorks. Your donations of money, goods and volunteer hours go very far at LifeWorks. The work has great impact and great outcomes because of the sound basis of the LifeWorks programs in social work and training.”

    Source: Lifeworksaustin Blog, Mar 10, 2009