Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
This story originally appeared in our summer edition of News from HOME.
When Project HOME began in 1989, poverty, untreated mental health, and addictions were the powerful forces driving people onto our streets, and our focus was on these vulnerable adults. Increasingly now, we see young people who are alone and in transient living situations—couch- surfing and even living on our streets. Project HOME must now approach this work with an eye towards our youth, providing them with meaningful opportunities to build a future for themselves and for our society.
We have emphasized safe and affordable housing as a critical need. Housing is essential, but youth need more than housing. They need education, employment, and community. Some of these young adults experienced early trauma, and that too must be addressed through a process of healing and recovery.
Nationally, the numbers of young people who are homeless are increasing. Statistics show that almost 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBTQ. Last winter, almost 1,200 people came through the Hub of Hope, our downtown drop-in engagement center. Ten percent of our guests were under age 25. This new reality demands planning and action now. I believe that our greatest possibility for change lies in nurturing the energy, vision, and optimism of our young adults. They are an unquenchable and persistent hope.
They are hungry for opportunity. They seek the educational and employment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs. They are determined, strong, and very willing to give back to their communities. They dare to believe that their lives will be different, and they work to make this a reality.
There are many ways we can nurture the seeds of hope in the lives of our youth. May each of us reach out and extend a hand to them!
Our interventions affect individual lives, certainly. But what we witness each day is that a home, coupled with education and employment opportunities, can change the life and future of a community. One young life, changed, is a powerful promise for the future for all.