On a hot Thursday evening, the Houston Sai youth returned to serve their fellow embodiments of love at the homeless youth drop-in center. After patiently waiting outside the church where the event was held, the homeless youth made their way in, seeking refuge from the scorching heat. Owing to the weather conditions, there was a large turnout of about 25 youth with some new faces who greeted everyone with a cheerful smile as they walked in.
After going through the house rules for the night, the volunteers and youth were seated and a sumptuous dinner was served. It was quite evident that this was the first good meal of the day or even a week for many of these deprived souls, as they excitedly passed the food around the table. The meal was accompanied with various types of conversations between the youth. Some were light hearted, with the youth talking about their week, family matters and jobs. While some poured their heart out talking about all the hardships they were going through. For the volunteers, the priority was to provide a loving and supportive environment for the youth to feel safe and express themselves freely.
Although some of the youth had slowly opened up to the volunteers, there were some who were understandably reserved and still in the process of building a trusting relationship with the Sai youth.
Following dinner, the youth were handed out bus passes and given some time to pick items from the donations closet. The volunteers assisted the youth as they made choices from a wide collection of clothes, food, toiletries and other essential supplies. The closet time was combined with an activity which generally consisted of some fun games, creative or educational workshops to engage the youth. The activity for the night was led by a team of volunteers who were training the youth on the Salesforce software platform. The youth were given specific tasks to complete and the reward for doing so were gift cards for their favorite restaurants. This activity was not only a fun way of learning something new but it also helped them in resume-building for any jobs to which they would like to apply. Many of the youth took up the challenge with much enthusiasm, showed immense curiosity in learning more about the platform and some even completed the task in record time. Their active participation in such activities were revealing of their potential to achieve more. All they needed was an opportunity.
And so, as everyone bid goodbye, another evening at the drop-in center came to an end. Every time the Sai youth volunteers go there, they are overcome with emotion, seeing what these homeless youth go through on a daily basis. They leave feeling immensely grateful and motivated to continue serving these youth to the best of their abilities.