This week on the YMCo blog we’ve got some guest bloggers! Ida McMillan-Zapf is a current freshman in college, but as a youth at Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke, VA, she was active in getting a fund for Project Hope, an organization which aids in education access for students living without housing. Since Ida and her class have graduated out of the youth program at CEC, Garretson Ayers, an 8th grader, has since gotten involved with the project. Below are reflections from both Ida and Garretson about their involvement with Project Hope as youth:
“The mission trip my Sunday school class went on consisted of visiting inns and hotels around Roanoke City, where we distributed pamphlets letting people know of aid that is available for homeless families who have children in school. Visiting these places was very eye opening because we got a first-hand idea of what it looks like to live out of a hotel room. The environment that families live in is very harsh and rough, when we think of hotels we imagine something nice with room service and little soaps, but these places had no room service, no miniature soap bars and smelled strongly of cigarette smoke and gasoline. Can you imagine being a young child, living in a place like this, hopping from one inn to the next and having to attend school at the same time? All of us who went on this trip agreed that we had to do something to help those living under these conditions so we decided to raise funds for the homeless youth in our community. We did this by selling soup and bread after church service and asking for donations. We raised nearly $800 dollars to put towards bus passes, school supplies and other needs, we are currently still raising funds for this cause and hope to keep up with this project for as long as possible.
Working with Project Hope helped me realize that homelessness could happen to any of us and just because we are living comfortably under our own roofs’ we cannot forget those who do not have a place to call home. Through working with Project Hope, I realized that just because someone may be homeless, this does not define who they are as a person and does not make them any less important than the rest of us.
1 Tim. 6:17-18 “Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.”– Ida
“Carrying on Project Hope has been a great experience, and has helped so many homeless family’s in Roanoke. Now that I have been in the youth group for two years, I have seen how Roanoke, Virginia has so many ways to help with homelessness. It means so much to me to go and hand out flyers for homeless family’s who need a night or two at the Rescue Mission. I have been to the Rescue Mission and played music for the Bible study group there, and it is hard to believe what these kids have been through. To me carrying on Project Hope makes me feel like I am providing family’s with a home. The youth group now has grown in so many ways because of the older youth that started Project Hope. I would love to continue climbing up the ladder and succeed in stopping homelessness in Roanoke. It has been the most fun of my life while working with my friends in the Christ Episcopal Youth Group and continuing Project Hope.”– Garretson
If you’d like to have a conversation with your youth about teen homelessness, check out this study guide we’ve created! If your youth are already doing something to alleviate teen homelessness in your home context, let us know at [email protected]!