SYM's Drop-in Center provides basic and immediate needs of youth, including food, hygiene items, showers, clothing, and laundry. It is here that SYM staff and volunteers first meet youth, learn their stories, and build relationships with them. Once youth are introduced to SYM, they can become involved more deeply in SYM programs such as our activities program or case management.
Long-time volunteer Bill Hutchinson reflects on a recent Friday volunteering:
For the past 5 years, I have volunteered at the Drop-in with Street Youth Ministries. I help staff on Friday afternoons and last week, I was able to walk with one of the youth to Goodwill to pick out some clothes for the job he was about to start. We were able to talk about his hopes to be able to date people who were similarly employed and not homeless. I walked with another youth to load his bus card for the month so that he could go to his newly begun community college class. Charles* talked about how he was pretty good in math and wanted to continue his education to open up more doors for himself. I helped another youth get his laundry done and directed three youth to meet with a mental health counselor who had volunteered her time to meet with willing folks.
Not every Friday afternoon feels so busy. Sometimes, I feel like my sole job is to warmly greet youth by name and play cards for several hours helping create a safe space where youth are known and cared for. I count it a privilege to be part of this ministry that meets homeless youth at their most vulnerable place and helps to direct them to services and positive relationships.
We are incredibly grateful to be able to offer a safe space for youth to be able to hang out, play games, watch movies, and build meaningful relationships with volunteers like Bill. There is something really amazing about feeling known and loved, and we hope that when youth walk into our space they feel accepted as they are.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - Timothy Keller
*Name changed for confidentiality