Youth Stories 2010

February 4th, 2010
Today we had 32 homeless and street kids for dinner! Thanks to these weekly meals we have been able to get to know the kids needs. Just this week your support has helped one teen go to the doctor, two teens get bus passes, and two more teens get identification cards. These seemingly small items are vital to the kids well-being.

February 11th, 2010
This week we have several sad updates. There are five new homeless kids on the street. I hope that when you read this, you do not forget what it means to be “homeless”. These kids have no home to give them shelter, no mom or dad to cook them dinner, and no one to care for them when they get sick. One of these kids is a 16 year old girl who has been kicked out of her home. Being new to the streets she had nothing to sleep in so we gave her blankets.

On a more positive note, there will be two students from The University of Redlands coming to help one of the homeless kids. They will help him to fill out a resume and job applications. He has been desperate for a job and this will be a great opportunity for him.

February 21st, 2010
We were so excited to see YouthHope in both the Sun and Redland’s Daily Facts on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. If you haven’t read it yet, you should check it out:

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/search/ci_14407706?IADID=Search-www.redlandsdailyfacts.com-www.redlandsdailyfacts.com

We have had a very crazy week. On Monday we were in the process of enrolling one of the homeless youth in school. Getting the kids back into school or starting them on a GED programs is one of YouthHope’s biggest priorities.

On Tuesday we got a call from one of the homeless boys. When we met with him he let us get a glimpse into his life. He told us that he has been living in an abandoned home with his 16 year old sister who he believes is pregnant. They are both starving. He is both emotionally and physically hurting. By Wednesday we provided him and his sister with enough food to get them through the week. We also took him down to get an ID, an important item, but something a lot of the kids are lacking.An ID is vital to apply for a job.

By Thursday both his sister and her boyfriend joined us for dinner. Tuesday was also the start of two new classes! The first was the art class. The class is designed to equip the kids with pre-job training by teaching them valuable skills such as time management and punctuality. Eventually the art class will help them put together a portfolio of their artwork. The class is also designed to teach them the important skills involved in presentation, as we hope to eventually display this work for sale.The first project is with pencil sketching and the second will be charcoal. The second class’s objective is to help the kids create a resume. Two students from The University of Redlands brought computers and printers down to the street and sat down with each of the kids individually. It went amazing! Each kid was able to see his or her own strengths and gifts. Each of these classes will be held weekly!

On Thursday we had 37 homeless, runaway, and street kids for dinner! Our average has been 22 so this is a dramatic increase. We were able to provide each of them with a hot meal. We are noticing a lot of self-mutilation in the form of cutting. This self inflicted pain is a physical representation of the suffering
these kids are facing daily. We would like to start counseling programs for these youth who have experienced so much hurt in their lives. On Friday we were able to take two homeless to the OBGYN in order to have a check-up.
She is five months pregnant. We are hoping to help ease the hardship of being pregnant while living on the streets.

February 28th, 2010
Every week YouthHope attempts to restore love and hope to the kids on the street. One way that you could help us do this is to go to www.refresheverything.com/youthhope and vote for us. We have had a dream of providing job training and employment opportunities for the homeless and street kids. Pepsi refresh came as a perfect chance for us. If we get enough votes Pepsi will gives us funds to start a bagel and coffee shop where our kids could get job training and experience. But we honestly can’t do this without you! These kids need jobs and you could help make that happen. You are allowed to vote once a day, so tell everyone you know, and keep voting through out the month of March!

This week started out when Heidi Mayer, the founder of YouthHope, received a call from a homeless boy. He began to tell her that the only time he was happy was when he was with YouthHope on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although we are thankful to be positively influencing his life, it breaks us to imagine what he goes through on a daily basis.

On Tuesday, after we ate dinner with the kids, one of the boys didn’t want us to leave. He had literally no where to go. Seeing how desperately he wanted off the streets, Heidi talked with him and he decided that he would go back into the foster system if the home was in Redlands. She was able to set up an appointment with an amazing boys home in Redlands. The next day, when Heidi went to go pick him up for his appointment with the home, she found him with his half sister who had just gotten out of jail. His sister promised him that he could live with her and that they could be a family. Having been in the foster care system since he was four, and witnessing its many faults firsthand, he decided to not go to the appointment. He, like all of us, desperately desires a family. When we returned on Thursday, his sister was not there, and he was still on the streets. We understand his longing for a family but we were heartbroken that he missed this opportunity that could have changed his life forever.

On Thursday, Heidi was driving a homeless boy to his first day of adult school. Before they arrived, he broke down weeping. He knew that he physically, emotionally, and mentally could not do it. Homelessness had not only taken a tole on his physical body, which was bruised and battered, but also on his spirit.

Yet this pattern of homelessness will not stop with these three stories. Two street kids, brothers, ran away on from home on Friday. They are now living in an abandoned home. YouthHope is not only passionate about helping those who are currently living on the streets, but also helping those who are not on the street, stay off.

March 1, 2010
Thank you to everyone who checked out the Pepsi refresh project. Unfortunately, our submission did not make it for the month of March because Pepsi refresh had already reached the maximum number of applicants. We will be trying again on April 1st and we will keep everyone posted on our success.

March 7th, 2010
This week we had 48 street kids and homeless kids eat dinner with us. Each individual has his or her own story and little by little, we are privileged to earn their trust, and see into their lives.

The week started off with the birth of a healthy baby boy. The baby boy weighed 8 lbs, 4 oz’s at birth, and is doing great. The mother experienced most of her pregnancy while living on the street. We are so thankful that both the mother and the child are safe, and that they are now off the street. The new mother was formerly homeless but is now living with her dad and step mom. In order to help her, YouthHope is currently raising money to help her buy a stroller. If anyone would like to help with this, we would love your support!

We also have another baby on the way. Heidi went with a couple to get a sonogram of their six-month old fetus.
Amazingly, both the mother and baby are healthy. They were so excited to find out the sex of the baby. It’s a boy! The mom and the dad are both living out of a garage. We are now in the process of finding them an apartment before the baby is born.

The father of this baby had been having problems with his sight for a long time. We took him Dr. Miller, an optometrist in Yucaipa. Dr. Miller gave him a free eye exam, and ordered him glasses, which the Lions Club in Beaumont paid for. Once he put on his new glasses, he was able to see things that he hadn’t seen in years. He saw the mountains in the distance, and the birds in the sky.Although glasses may seem like a small technological innovation to some, to us, a miracle occurred. Sight was restored to an individual. We are so appreciative of the gifts that people such as Dr. Miller and The Lions Club have given to the kids on the street.

The hope of a brand new life and reinstated sight was soon contrasted against the stories of others. We have seen self-mutilation in several of the kids that came for dinner last week. One boy gave us a glimpse into his life when he told us the story behind his scars. This particular individual lives at home with his mom. When his mother saw the cuts on his arms, they made her angry. In order to appease her irritation, he began to cut his legs instead. As he has reached out to YouthHope, we are trying to encourage him to get the help he needs, while also understanding that he may only accept so much help from us. He has told us that he has cut himself over 100 times. Each of those scars represent a time that he has been hurting, and where his life has felt outside of his control. Although we know that this is a behavior that needs serious help, we hope that we can be a positive escape from his pain.

There are so many more kids that we still know so little about. Two 17 year-old runaways were living in an abandoned house. They were picked up by the police, and returned to their parents. We hope upon their return, their transition to living at home will be smooth and successful.

Another homeless boy who has always kept his distance from YouthHope finally opened up to us this last week. He asked if we could help him join the Marines. We took him to the adult school but they would not accept him. There are so many factors that each kid faces that make it difficult for them to succeed. There are so many closed doors, which we will continually strive to open. Our next step for this individual is to get him his GED and to check out Job Corps in the coming week.

Finally, there is an amazing story that really speaks of YouthHope’s wide-ranging effects on not only the youth in Redlands, but around the country. Heidi received text messages from a former homeless boy. He recently moved to Denver, Colorado. Scared that he would be kicked out of his apartment, and unable to find a job, he was beginning to give up on life. He did not want to become homeless on the freezing streets of Denver and thought that killing himself may be the next option. Heidi was able to talk him through it and by the next day she was able to find him a place to get food. SAME Café, located in Denver, makes sure that everyone is able to eat.
If you cannot pay for your food, you can work it off by doing dishes. Through this cafe, this boy was able to get food and was given direction. We love ideas such as this café, and if you are interested check it out at http://www.soallmayeat.org/!

We are so excited for what is planned for next week, and if you would like to become involved, we would love your help.

March 14th, 2010
This has been a week of new opportunities for the kids on the street of Redlands.

On Monday, we started the process of getting one of the kids teeth fixed. He has been in a lot of pain and we have possibly found a dentist that will help him.

On Tuesday, students from the University of Redlands returned to work with YouthHope.They are helping the kids on the street by encouraging them to see their own strengths and then helping them write their own personal resume. At the end of the workshop, each of the kids had two pages of positive, affirming information about themselves. This class is not only beneficial for future job opportunities, but serves as a chance for each street kid, homeless kid, and runaway, to see that they have worth. Students also went into the YouthHope art class and offered the kids a chance to have their artwork in the University of Redlands’ senior art show. The kids were so excited to have their art displayed. These opportunities spur up so much creativity in their artwork, and we hope that this chance will bring bits of light into their life. If you are interested in the student’s art benefit check out: www.comfort2chaos.com

We also came across an opportunity to help an individual get off the street. We began working with a homeless boy who has been on the street since he was 14. He has been homeless for 6 years. We helped him apply to Job Corps, a one to two year program that pays for individuals to receive job training and a High School Diploma.
While an individual attend, Job Corps pay for his or her room and board, an important factor for anyone who daily faces the uncertainties of being homeless.

We had a similar opportunity on Wednesday with another homeless boy, except this individual would like to join the California Conservation Corps. The CCC is like Job Corps, as it pays for both men and women to work while providing room and board. The CCC focuses on outdoor projects such as trail building, tree planting, and flood prevention. They also respond to natural disaster so they will be trained in areas such as fire fighting, and emergency recovery. While in the program, we hope that he could begin working on his AA.

We are still in the process of hearing back from both of these programs, but we are already excited. These opportunities could potentially be two lives off the streets of Redlands.

Despite hearing stories like these, where these kids are demonstrating their willingness to work and learn, many of us still hold onto our stereotypes of the homeless. These kids are working hard to turn their lives around. On Wednesday, one of the kids pulled weeds for five hours so that he could earn money to pay for his cell phone. In the past he had stolen money, but he now has a desire to change his life. Although it was hard work, he was proud of himself, and it was worth it to him to begin living life in an honest way.

On Thursday, we once again witnessed the pain that these kids are going through. A young street kid began telling Heidi that he had everything he would ever need: his house, his dad, and his girlfriend. Noticing his sadness she asked him, “Then why do you look so sad?” He then started weeping. He explained to her that he has a huge hole in his heart. He feels empty and he doesn’t know how to change it. She offered to get him counseling, but he refused. We are hoping that he will accept help, because we want everyone that we encounter to have the chance to become more whole, whether that be through material possessions such as blankets or clothes, or through emotional support.

Finally, we can continue on with the story of the boy from Colorado. He was able to set up a job in Denver, but he had to get identification before starting. In order to get that, he came back to Redlands. YouthHope helped him get his birth certificate and the papers he needed to start his job. He too has been on the street since he was 14 so he knows many of the street and homeless kids through out Redlands. Because he desperately wants to change his life, he purposely stayed away from the streets so that he would not be tempted to go back to his old ways. His story encourages us. Although he is continually facing hardships and temptations, he is fighting to succeed. On Saturday he was put back on a bus to Denver with the paperwork he needed, ready to start his new job.

March 23rd, 2010
On Tuesday we continued with our art and resume classes. The kids were offered the chance to sell their artwork at the YouthHope benefit. Students from The University of Redlands continued to offer the homeless and street kids the opportunity to write resumes. These resumes seem to be making a real impact as we have seen some of the kids get interviews and opportunities.

Pregnancy is a major challenge that the girls on the street face. Currently there are girls in many different stages of pregnancy. One girl, 16 years old, thinks that she may be with child, another is three months pregnant and went to her first doctors appointment on Tuesday, and another is six months along and is attending follow up appointments. Although YouthHope facilitates doctor’s appointments to the OB/GYN, we are excited to see individuals who are exhibiting maturity by going to their appointments on their own initiative. But we are even more excited about is the girls getting the Depo shots, a birth control method that will prevent pregnancy for three months. On Tuesday one of the girls went to the clinic and was able to get this shot for free.

On Friday, Daniel Maurer put on an incredible music festival for YouthHope. Many local artists donated their artwork, music, and time to help YouthHope. The three pieces of artwork done in the art class by the homeless and street kids were all sold. We would like to tell you about two amazing people, Missy and Adam, street kids who presented their work at the benefit. Both Missy and Adam got out of their comfort zone, dressed up, and attended the fundraiser. Missy, a young woman who has daily faces enormous obstacles, presented her work with confidence and beauty. Because of her amazing presence, the individual who bought her work paid more than she was asking for. Missy has graduated from high school, but she is still struggling to find work. She was one of the kids who completed a resume with the students from U of R, and she now has an interview! Adam, an individual that YouthHope is supposed to be helping, has now offered to assist us. At the benefit he offered to be YouthHope’s spokesperson. He wants to speak at YouthHope’s events so that those interested in YouthHope could see who they would be helping. YouthHope has journeyed with Adam at a variety of levels, from a material level, offering food and clothes, to an emotional level, offering him a chance to express himself through artwork. We think it’s amazing that he would be willing to go to a new level with us, opening up to a crowd of
people about his life. We are so thankful for those that gave their time and energy to the benefit.

March 28th, 2010
Each individual that YouthHope encounters has his or her own unique story. Stories consist of not only a past, but also a future, full of dreams and aspirations. One young man who we are currently working with is tired of the life he is now living, and hopes to create a new story for himself. Some of you may remember an individual who has been trying to get into Job Corps. He has been on the street for years now and has come to a point where he is ready to change his life. Yet because he is homeless, there are seemingly minor issues that cause major consequences in his pursuit. A major obstacle has been working on his record and obtaining an ID.

On Monday, Heidi and this individual who is applying Job Corps, spent the entire day at the San Bernardino County Court. In order to get into Job Corps he had to take care of two unresolved issues on his record. His record was another example of the repercussions of homelessness. The warrant for his arrest was consequence of him not showing up for court. Yet it was next to impossible for him to know when to attend his court hearing because he had no address for the Justice System to send him information regarding his appearance. After spending the day working on his issues, they were able to settle both. In order to take care of his warrant, he will be making monthly payments and will be spending time in jail. This is an amazing step for us to see. This person was willing to sacrifice in order to begin putting his life together. We have begun to see a transformation, which started from the inside, and is reflecting outward onto his actions and choices.

In order to serve his time in jail, he will need identification. Although this may sound easy, it has been a
difficult process. There is no way that this person can “prove” that he is who he says he is. The rest of the week, Heidi worked with many different agencies to see how they would go about getting a birth certificate or an ID. On Tuesday, she talked to the Commander of the Redlands Police. He told her that he could help her get an ID. On Thursday, she talked to the County of San Bernardino Human Services: Children’s Network. They were willing to help get his birth certificate. By Friday morning both the Police Commander and someone from the Children’s Network had called with good news. The Commander was able to get all the paperwork in order to provide an ID from DMV. The Children’s Network was able to get the birth certificate.

Both of these forms of identification are a major step forward in this individual’s life. By the end of this next week, the Job Corps application should be completed. The application should take about two to four months to process but we are waiting expectantly for the news.

So many of those we encounter are working to fix their lives. They are trying to create better futures for themselves and for their children. On Friday an expecting mother went to the OB/GYN. We latter found out that she is off the street, and the father of the child is working. They had previously lived in a tent under a bridge. They are shaping their lives in order to give their child a better story to live. Another individual is so desperate to get back into the school system that he will risk getting put back into the foster care system, the same system that has let him down countless times. These people do not like the past, and want to make a new future for themselves. We are excited to help them.

April 4th, 2010
Since YouthHope emerged on the streets of Redlands in July of 2009, 150 homeless and runaway teens have been helped in some form or fashion. YouthHope started building relationships with Redland’s street kids by providing basic needs: a warm meal, a new pair of socks, and encouraging words. As time progresses, and trust has formed between the teens and the volunteers, new opportunities continue to emerge. We can see that the needs of those on the streets often go much deeper than simple material needs. In order to restore these individuals, there needs to be a move towards physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. We believe that we have begun the process of restoration by helping these teens schedule doctor’s appointments, apply for jobs, create encouraging resumes, express themselves through art, and receive the motivation they deserve.

YouthHope is continually motivating the homeless and street kids to continue their education. Although some street kids and homeless youth have received their high school diploma, many have not. A main focus of this last week has been to reinstate two boys back into school.

The first story is that of a 17 year-old homeless boy. For the past three months, YouthHope has been working to get him back into school. This week, things finally began to come together. After working with the Redlands School District, Children’s Network, and the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, this homeless youth was finally enrolled at Redlands East Valley High School. He was thrilled. In order to prepare him for his first day of class on Friday morning, Heidi Mayer took him shopping. They not only bought school supplies, but also new shirts, socks, hair gel, deodorant, and a toothbrush. It is important that this 17 year old boy to
go to school, not as the “homeless kid”, but as a normal 17 year old teenager. This is an example of a wider view that we hope to establish, where we don’t just focus on the basic needs of each individual, but on the wider social and emotional issues that situation presents.The second story comes from the life of a street kid. His family has no income and is struggling to keep their home. In response to their situation, he decided to go back to school. He wants to get his high school diploma so that he could start helping his family. This week, YouthHope helped him get into the Yucaipa Adult School. Many may ask why someone from Redlands would travel all the way to Yucaipa for school. Unfortunately, Redlands is shutting down their adult school. This will be a major problem for many of the homeless and street kids who wish to get their GED in the future. For this particular situation, YouthHope provided him with a bus pass which will take him from Redlands to Yucaipa and
vise – versa. Yet this will only help so much. He will still need to walk around three miles from the bus stop to school and then back again. But even this disadvantage is not hindering him. He is excited for this opportunity and began his school this last week.

Although these events have been exciting reminders of how far YouthHope has come with new programs and opportunities, this week has also been a reminder of the continual need for the basics. Through out the week there were many calls where those on the streets were starving. We hope that one day the youth on the streets of Redlands will no longer be hungry, and we are trying to do all we can to make that happen.

April 11th, 2010
Each week, YouthHope encourages the homeless and street kids of Redlands to take the next step. That step, whether it is a trip to the doctors, signing up for school, or applying for a job, is different for everyone. We want to walk along side the youth of Redlands, through the successes and the failures, because we believe in them and their futures.
We want to update you on the individual who has been trying to get his ID over the past few weeks. After working with many individuals including the Redlands Police Department and the Children’s Network of San Bernardino, the ID is finally in the mail and should be arriving soon. With this, he will finally be able to submit his application to Job Corps. In order to get this far he has spent hours meeting with the police, attending court, and standing in line at the DMV. This has been a huge process and we are excited and hopeful for the outcome.

We also wanted to let everyone know that the individual who started adult school in Yucaipa loves it. Everyday he takes the bus from Redlands to Yucaipa. From the bus stop he walks three miles to school, and then repeats the process on the return trip. Although this is definitely not the most convenient way to get to school, he is doing everything he can to continue his education in order to help his family and himself.

As you can see, YouthHope is involved in many aspects of these individual’s lives. Because we have witnessed the hardships of being pregnant on the streets, we support the use of birth control. This week we took an 18 year-old street kid to get the depot shot. This proactive step will prevent her from getting pregnant for three months.

We want to leave you with a story. This week, a young homeless boy asked YouthHope for help. He came to us injured after a fight. After taking him to the emergency room where they diagnosed him with several bruised ribs and a bruised spinal cord, he told the four YouthHope volunteers that they were the only ones that truly cared about him. He sees true meaning in the relationships that he makes through YouthHope. Although he may not know what his next step is, we will continue to walk with him through the good and the bad.

We are so thankful for our volunteers who build these relationships and for all those who have been assisting YouthHope in so many different ways. Recently, the University of Redlands’ Football Team organized a sock drive. Over three hundred pairs of socks were donated to YouthHope. Each new step that the homeless, runaway and street kids of Redlands take, will be done in socks donated by the Redlands’ community.

April 18th, 2010
Although helping the youth of Redlands has been stirring in the hearts of so many of the volunteers for years, YouthHope did not officially begin running until the summer of 2009. Because we are a new organization, facing new challenges daily, we are still figuring out certain aspects of our programs. One of our biggest challenges has been providing proper medical attention to the youth on the streets. This is why we are so excited about our partnership with SAC Health System, run by the Loma Linda University. They have offered to provide our kids with free medical care. This is such a huge step for us. They will provide not only basic medical care, but they also provide mental health services, dental care,prenatal care, immunizations, and specialized care for HIV/AIDS. SACHS will also help us with prescriptions. Instead of paying close to $100 for a prescription, it will only cost $4. Additionally, they have decided to work with us in the cases when the kids do not have identification. As many of you may know, getting ID’s has been a huge process, and it is incredible that they will not turn away homeless youth just because they lack this piece of information. This week alone, they have already worked with two of our kids. We took one girl in for a depot shot. The other individual was a homeless boy who has been homeless for years. YouthHope has been struggling to find a dentist who would work on his tooth
for free for some time now. He was in so much pain that he was becoming sick. We are so excited for this breakthrough that will help the homeless, runaways, and street kids get the medical attention they need and deserve. If you would like to learn more about this clinic, here is their website: http://www.llu.edu/central/sachs/index.page

We had several new people on the street this week. A young, newly married couple came to YouthHope looking for help. They are struggling to get their lives put together. Although we know very little about them and their past, their presence was refreshing. They do not drink, smoke, or do drugs, and they sincerely want to get their lives on track. They are willing to do anything to get off the streets, and YouthHope is trying to help them achieve that goal. One thing that the husband expressed was his desire to join the army. In order to join the army, he needs to get his high school diploma. We are currently helping him enroll in a program where he could complete this requirement. We come across so many people who are lost, who aren’t ready to leave the streets, or who don’t really know any other way of life. But these people are working hard to get to a new place in life, and we’re excited to help them get to that place.

Seeing a young optimistic couple is so inspiring to us because we face so many heartbreaking situations, where the course of action is not so clear. On Tuesday, a 16 year-old street kid came to dinner with marks across his face and neck. He told us that when he refused to take off his sweatshirt his dad beat him. Because this took place in a public place, where people had the opportunity to intervene, but didn’t, he feels alone in his struggles. In his eyes, no one did anything to help him. We encouraged him to turn his dad in, but he refused to, saying he did not want be put in the foster care system. Instead his brother and him ran away from home. The two of them and two other homeless boys are now living in the orange groves.

In order to help these kids we are still trying to get funding. YouthHope had an Open Mic Night at Augie’s Coffee Shop on Friday. Close to 200 people came, heard about YouthHope, participated in our silent auction, and listened to our amazing performers. We raised over $200 through the silent auction and coffee sales. We want to say thank you to everyone who came and participated. It really was an amazing night.

Lastly, we wanted to tell you that YouthHope will be on the radio! Air1 interviewed Heidi Mayer this last
Monday about YouthHope’s goals and mission. It will be airing on April 25th at 6 pm on Air1, (90.1). We hope that you and anyone else who might be interested in YouthHope can listen in!