Service At Drop-In Centre
For Homeless Youth
It was a warm Thursday evening in Houston, Texas, as the youth geared up to serve at the local Drop-in Centre in Houston that serves the homeless youth at a local church. Approximately 25 homeless youth between the ages of 13 and 24 were lined up outside the church, eagerly awaiting the doors to open promptly at 6 PM. After they all settled in, a full course, warm dinner was served to them as the volunteers dined with the youth, engaging in light hearted banter and just letting kids be kids without any regulations or judgements. After the meal, the youth were taken to a large closet, two at a time, to help themselves to clothes, toiletries, diapers, snacks and so on, for them to take home with them. This coincided with the group activity that was scheduled for the week. This particular night it was a light hearted game of Bingo with prizes arranged. The youth played so passionately - definitely one of their favorite activities! This Drop-in Centre also caters to the LGBTQ community. The overall environment and energy there is of Love and Acceptance!
This particular evening, there was also a dark cloud that loomed over the homeless youth. Only one month prior, a transgender homeless youth who used to come quite regularly, was murdered the same evening she left the Drop-in Centre, following an argument with her boyfriend. It was in the local news and had devastated the community and induced dread into the hearts of the homeless youth. They were in immense need of love and support more than ever before. It was especially evident when a sudden altercation took place between two youths which quickly turned violent.
One of the volunteer youths saw a three year old child in a state of panic and tears; and quickly swooped him up in his arms to take him safely away from the situation. The child was embraced and consoled. The police officer on duty eventually brought things to a halt. Eventually, the situation was brought back to normal by redirecting the youth back to the light-hearted game at hand. Such altercations are not uncommon in Drop-in Centres as many youth have transformed their deep seated fears into anger. A much more tolerable emotion for them than fear, hurt and rejection that they battle within and continue to face, all their lives. But this particular night the emotions were heightened due to the recent events. It was especially evident when one of the two youths involved in the altercation had broken down into tears shortly after, while hugging the police officer.
The night eventually came to a close with heavy hearts. These youth go through unimaginable struggles and dangers that the volunteers can only pray for their safety and comfort after they leave. They hold on to the hope that the time spent at the Centre gave these souls some respite from all their trials and tribulations.