Ongoing Seva in Houston, Texas
It was another Thursday evening at Montrose Grace Place Drop-In Centre where the Young Adult volunteers and other comrades came to serve the homeless youth of Houston Central. Due to adequate funding, they are now able to open the place for an additional day in the week which has made a tremendous difference to the youth. They now have more flexibility and opportunities to meet their crucial needs. Approximately 20 youth aged 13-21 were served. Doors opened promptly at 6 pm. They have a rotating schedule of volunteers for dinner and activities, scheduled throughout the year. However only "Direct Volunteers" with the appropriate 16-hour training are allowed to interact with the youth, given the sensitive nature of their situation.
Food was served in abundance with appetizers and desserts. The youth appeared famished and their hearts and bellies were filled to their contentment while the volunteers sat and engaged with them. After a break and handing out bus passes to each youth (which they depend on, day in day out) they proceeded to the scheduled activity for the evening. Coinciding with the activity, they were taken into the "Closet" two at a time to choose from a variety of items such as clothes, toiletries, shoes, snacks, sleeping bags and so on. This was also another opportunity to have a harmless banter with the youth at a more personal level. The volunteers assisted with helping them sort and look for their specific needs.
On this particular day, one homeless youth seemed very distraught on the phone with her friend and it quickly escalated to furious anger to a complete, tearful melt down on the floor. It was obvious her friend was leaving her and when she was asked why she was crying she said "I don't want to be alone tonight!" This particular youth was obviously battling other psychiatric issues. After counseling and seeing her through her collections, she was consoled. There was an almost child-like innocence about her. A hardened exterior but with very serious coping issues; likely from years of trauma and lack of support. Just another reminder of the real hurt that lurks beneath them.
The night came to a close and the youth departed. The volunteers huddled to discuss issues, concerns and areas of growth as they do every youth night. They know very well that what they are doing was only a drop in the ocean of the dire need, but one cannot climb Mount Everest by looking at the top!