Seva at Homeless Youth Drop-In Centre
For their monthly offering of Seva to Bhagawan, the Houston youth returned once again to volunteer at the homeless youth drop-in centre. Following the Divine instructions, the youth had signed up for the volunteer programme to contribute in their own small way towards helping with the problem of homelessness in the city. The purpose of this programme was to provide an understanding and comfortable environment for the homeless youth to express themselves freely and facilitate their personal growth.
Although this was only the second week of volunteering for the youth, they already could identify many of the familiar faces of the homeless kids who greeted them with smiles as they arrived. There was a comparatively higher turnout of about 20 youth this week.
The first order of business for the night was a family style dinner where the at-risk youth and volunteers enjoyed a sumptuous meal together and engaged in several open-ended and light-hearted conversations. The topics of discussion ranged from likes/dislikes in terms of food, music and sports to what everyone’s day or week was like. Some of the youth also spoke about potential job applications/interviews and what they were doing to excel in the same.
Following dinner, the homeless youth were handed out bus passes and were asked to pick clothes and essential supplies from the donations closet.
Having been given the option to pick from a wide selection of jackets, pants, shirts and shoes, the homeless youth were overjoyed, with many trying on multiple outfits and asking for opinions from the volunteers on making the best choices.
As part of a continuing writing workshop with the representative from Writing in the Schools (WITS), the homeless youth were given journals and asked to pen their thoughts and emotions in the form of a poem. The WITS leader had her way of putting the kids at ease and bringing out the best in them. Although, a few of the homeless youth were initially hesitant, but with some motivation from the leader they delved into the activity with utmost focus and dedication. The representative gave them various themes and asked them to write whatever came to mind. She worked with them to refine the pieces and finally they were asked to share their work with the rest of the crowd. As the homeless youth recited their poems, everyone was in awe of how eloquently they expressed themselves with such depth and maturity, despite being of such a young age.
Some poems drew laughter while some very emotional responses from the crowd. One of the homeless youth chose to express herself by singing instead of reciting the poem. The most wonderful part of the night was the final phase of the activity where the homeless youth were asked to write on the things they are grateful for in life. Despite having been through several extreme hardships, these homeless youth were able to come up with many things they are thankful for and they reflected on their hopes for a better future. This remarkable experience provided a powerful take away lesson for all the volunteers – there is always so much to be grateful for. And so, another Seva activity came to an end with the Houston youth offering their utmost reverence to Bhagawan for the opportunity to serve and praying for His guidance in this new endeavour.