"We have the privilege of jumping into the messy parts of life with young people—and we do it because we’ve had to wrestle with the reality of our own messes too. It’s from a place of shared brokenness, shared need, that we can enter into life with young people. The beauty of showing up to work at SYM is that we get to set aside any pretense of life being put-together and perfect."
We believe life is so much more than just surviving - our hope is for young people to thrive as well. SYM prioritizes this value through our activities program which provides weekly outings for community building and fun! It allows opportunities for youth to escape the U-District, get outside, stretch themselves mentally and physically, and most importantly experience healthy fun! Check out what we've been up to lately, and don't forget to follow us on Instagram (@sym_seattle) to keep up with photos from recent activities.
I get frustrated sometimes when hiking because I have to pay so much attention to my feet. If I don’t keep my eyes down I will (and certainly have) tripped.
This reminds me of how young adults here at SYM explain their situations, that they can’t look up to see where they’re going because they are so focused on what is in front of them.
They’re so focused on not tripping, on meeting the basic necessities of each day, that they can get used to keeping their head down, and then they get stuck.
Case management is a chance for youth to sit down with SYM staff one on one and gain perspective. As a case manager I work with young adults to make to-do lists, we make phone calls that are exhausting and full of long wait times, I drive them to appointments, we research together how you get a Wisconsin ID replacement when you’re very far from Wisconsin. We cheerlead accomplishments, and listen to stories. We get to know young people and what makes them unique, and we help young people identify what direction they want to go.
If we only ever looked down at our feet, we’d never get to enjoy or marvel at the little things in life that add up to be the big things. We’d never get to pick what way we are walking. Case management allows space for these things to happen in the lives of homeless young adults.
Written by Emma Fix, Case Manager
Recently, my church challenged us to kick off 2018 by reading through the Gospel of John. As I began reading through John, I noticed something striking to me in the first few chapters. In chapter 1, John the Baptist points out to his followers that Jesus is the Lamb of God (v.36). Following Jesus, they ask him where he's staying. Instead of simply telling them where, he invites them to "Come and see." One of these followers is Andrew, who immediately goes and gets his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus (v.40-42).
Shortly after this, Philip meets Jesus and tells his friend Nathanael about him. Nathanael is skeptical, so Philip invites him to "Come and see" (v.44-46). Skipping to chapter 4, we see a similar interaction happen with the Samaritan woman at the well. After encountering Jesus, she goes to her town and says to her people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did" (v.29).
What I love about each of these instances is the invitation offered. In each passage, when Andrew, Philip, and the Samaritan woman meet Jesus, their first instinct was to invite their community to meet him and bring them there. It reminds me of hiking ahead of friends and being the first to see a beautiful view or waterfall, and quickly running back to say, "You guys have GOT to see this."
Jesus isn't someone who can just be explained with mere words, he's someone people must experience for themselves.
Juxtaposed between these passages is Jesus' first miracle, turning water into wine. I LOVE that Jesus chose this to be his first miracle, because it reminds me that life with Jesus is one big party, a feast! His first miracle was choosing to keep the party going, and not with just any wine, but the best wine. Jesus doesn't skimp on us, but he lavishly gives in abundance.
As followers of Jesus, our lives get to be this invitation for others to "come and see" what Jesus is all about. And what's great about that is we aren't inviting people to something boring or rigid, but we're inviting them to an exciting feast - to meet the Lord of the Wine.
*Written by Jordan Field*
Reflections from Stephanie Healow,
SYM's Life Skills & Activities Coordinator:
Around August, we begin fielding questions from youth regarding SYM's annual snowboarding season. The waiting list fills quickly, and every Wednesday afternoon you can be sure that a large group of youth will be outside SYM, waiting to go to the mountain. A buzz of nervous excitement fills the room as we complete forms, load up the vans, and cross the traffic deadlock of I-5 until we are free to cruise East on I-90. I think for most people it is consoling to see the panorama of sky scrapers fade into tall trees and mountains. For youth often bound by the Seattle bus system, it feels even more extraordinary to escort them into the windy Snoqualmie wilderness, far past where the Metro lines end.
The 2016 snowboard crew has become a strong community force. Some of the participants were friends prior, but many joined as strangers. At the end of each snowboarding session, we gather around the propane fire and reflect on our experiences on the hill. On one particular evening, people were calling out individuals that shined or inspired them. My favorite part was youth recalling major falls, slips, wipe outs & my favorite, "supermans" (slamming belly down, arms out onto the snow). There is joy & laughter about recalling falls, because no one broke anything. The youth simply picked themselves up, laughed it off, and tried again.
"Falling was the best part because I knew I didn't die or break anything. I knew I was okay and alive."
--- a response to snowboarding
Snowboarding exhibits the resilient strength within each of our youth. It presents their ability to be okay with falling, the unknown, and the pain of often hitting the same spot time and again. Once they hit the snow, awareness comes to the present moment. Youth learn to stand up again, and slowly build the skills to carve and direct the mountain slope to their joy ride- rather than their collapse.
We often urge youth to consider how resilience learned on our snowboarding trips may be put to use in other areas of life, as well. SYM's youth experience many challenges such as addiction, abusive relationships, and the unknown of where they will sleep on any particular night. These factors cause youth to feel out of control and vulnerable... much like youth may feel their first night snowboarding. The powerful moment comes when they can reflect on where they fell, how they stood up, leaned into the problem a different way, and tried again. We are grateful to take youth snowboarding, and be a resounding force of encouragement as youth take steps toward building a life off the streets.