Tomorrow, I am making dinner for 15 homeless youth. I'm so nervous/excited.
Several of the projects I've been able to support so far have been really fun. So much fun, that arguable, it's not much of a sacrifice to help them out. Yeah, spend a day talking with students about thier awesome science? Eat girl scout cookies? Yeah, I'm a real hero. But I was looking for a way to get involved with some issues that are frankly harder to deal with. Feeding the hungry. Giving shelter to the poor. I learned really quickly that because there is no easy fix for homelessness, organizations that deal with these issues need a real commitment. You can't just pop into the soup kitchen and see if they need help ladling.
I also started learning a lot more about the actual problem of youth homelessness in my own community. I'm going to need a few blog posts to cover this, but the quick summary is that even though I live in a privaledged suburb, people, included young adults and children, regularly deal with homelessness (and hunger) here. Ugh.
I will confess to being an absolute bleeding heart liberal. We live in the most privileged country on earth. People shouldn't go hungry. And people (especially kids) should have a safe place to sleep. Even a home.
Up the street from me is a building that is being converted to a Friends of Youth Shelter. Friends of Youth provides therapeutic foster care and emergency shelters and services for youth and young adults. The new building is going to be shelter for transitional housing for kids graduating out of the foster system. I started learning about the really great things that Friends of Youth does for youth and families on the Eastside, and I thought they really are the kind of organization I want to help. They provide a lot of support and connect clients to a variety of services to help with the transition out of homelessness.
One of the ways that they need help is providing meals at a young adult shelter. The Landing provides emergency housing (and dinner, and breakfast, and showers and laundry) for 15 adults from 18-24. They can also connect them with other services, like counseling, medical help or even education. This is really important stuff!
So important, that even though I am terribly hesitant to cook for people I don't know especially well (or at all), I decided to start volunteering to bring dinner to The Landing. After we get this first run off the ground, I'll see how often is realistic to volunteer. I've been SO nervous about this, but I expect that as it becomes routine, I'll feel less nervous.