I’ve been on the street my whole life. I’ve never had a house or an apartment. My parents are drug addicts and I was born into the mess that they created.
My parents use me to get them their drugs. They trafficked me most of my life. I’ve seen things that no one should have to see. People dying, gang fights, people passed out from drugs. I have so much trauma from it all and I don’t know if I will every recover.
I’m 14, but I haven't been to school since the 4th grade. My parents needed me to stay with them to get them the drugs they needed.
I sleep in a ditch away from everyone else. It’s the few hours I get by myself without yelling or fighting and it’s the one place I feel safe.
Today, I had enough of it all. I have dreams of being a famous basketball player and I know that living like this will only end up with me dying.
I saw a car in the parking lot of one of my favorite parks and I decided to ask them for help.
They said that they would make some phone calls and after about an hour, Heidi showed up.
She sat with me on the grass and we talked about my dreams and my future. She listened to me and believed me and told me that she was going to make sure I was safe.
She made a few phone calls and before the sun set I was on my way to a safe house where they are going to let me stay until I can move into more permanent housing. They got me scheduled for a doctors appointment along with re-enrolling me into school.
There was no judgement, no condemnation, just love and a willingness to help.
I can see a brighter future for myself already. When I’m a professional basketball player, I’m making sure that everyone at YouthHope has a front row seat to my games!
Thank you YouthHope for being there for me!
When I first started YouthHope, I never imagined some of the things I would experience. From overwhelming sadness learning about our youths past, to ecstatic joy seeing a youth who has struggled so long, finally receive their high school diploma.
I wasn't expecting such a range of emotions on our first YouthHope Christmas, but I did.
Our goal was to provide every youth with ANY shoe that they wanted. It could be any style, any brand, any color. We had 38 youth sign up for shoes that year. The staff and volunteers at YouthHope started searching high and low for these shoes. We went to every store in the Inland Empire to ensure that each youth would have their dream shoe. Somehow we were able to find every shoe.
On the day of the party, we had incredible volunteers that came and decorated the entire room. Each table was set beautifully, there was delicious food, and each of those 38 shoes were wrapped, waiting to be opened.
As the youth started to come, I felt so much joy seeing the look on their faces. They were amazed at what the community had done for them. They felt loved and cared for.
One young lady came walking in, but she didn't have the same look as the others. She looked upset and I asked her if she was ok. She said "I hate Christmas and I only came because you asked me to." My heart broke.
The rest of the night was amazing. I got to share my favorite Christmas story, we ate food, we laughed, and they got to open their shoes. The youth loved it. They all sat there and took off the shoes they were wearing and put on their new pair. They were shocked that they fit and that they were exactly what they asked for.
As everyone was leaving, I saw that young lady standing in the corner. I went over to her worried that we had messed up her shoes. I asked her if everything was ok and she gave me the biggest smile, hugged me, and said "Thank you! This is the FIRST gift I've ever received in my entire life". I was shocked! She had never received a gift. EVER!
I knew from that moment on, that every year we would hand out Christmas shoes. Even though the shoes are expensive, we will continue to give shoes because for many of our youth, it's the only gift they receive ALL year. Maybe the only gift EVER!
Thank you for helping us give our youth HOPE!
Even with COVID, we will still give shoes to our youth!
COVID-19 has been so hard on my family. Me and my husband both lost our jobs back in March and have been unable to find work since then. I’ve been forced to stay at home while my kids do school and my husband goes out most days to try to find a job.
Living in a tiny apartment has also been so hard on us. No where for the kids to go and stuck inside most days.
We found out about YouthHope from my sons friend. He told us that they might be able to help us while we are in this tough spot.
My son and his friend skateboarded down to YouthHope one day and was so relieved when they offered them food and clothes and shoes. I have not been able to provide new clothes or shoes for my kids this fall and just putting food on the table has been a struggle.
The next day, me and my husband brought the rest of my family down and YouthHope provided us with shoes, clothes, a hot meal, and also boxes of groceries for us to take home.
We were invited to come back anytime we needed anything and even let my kids skateboard outside for a while. It was like a breath of fresh air.
I left with tears in my eyes knowing that there are people out there who want to help us.
I know that we won’t always be in this position and one day we will be able to provide new clothes for my kids again, but it’s nice to have people care for us while we’re in this in between period of our lives.
We aren't youth, but YouthHope still took care of all of us! We are so thankful!
You survived by seizing every tiny drop of love you could find anywhere and milking it, relishing it for all it was worth...As as you grew up, you sought love anywhere you could find it, whether it was a teacher or a coach or a friend or a friend's parents...They are what sustained you. For all these years, you've lived under the illusion that, somehow, you made it because you were tough enough to overpower the abuse, the hatred, the hard knocks of life. But really you made it because love is so powerful that tiny little doses of it are enough to overcome the pain of the worst things life can dish out.
You see me all the time. When you stop by to pick up some eggs on your way home from work. When you do your weekly grocery shopping. I'm the one scanning your items, helping you find the correct aisle, and cleaning your grocery cart.
You would never know by looking or talking to me that I've also been homeless. I lived at a local park under some trees. My food came from what me and my friends could find and we slept on sleeping bags we dug out of dumpsters.
I've never had a stable life. My parents have never been able to keep a job or a house in my entire life. We have always moved from house to house, job to job.
Living this kind of life does some permanent damage to a person. Never knowing the future or having any constant, normal life has been hard.
When I turned 18, I vowed to live a better life than I was given. I went out and got my own job at a grocery store.
I've been there 2 years and every day I walk out of my shift beaming with pride. I have a place to live now, nothing big or fancy, but it's a place I can call my own.
I found out about YouthHope when they came to the park to give us food. They're different. They didn't come in asking all these questions about why we're homeless or how we were going to get out of the mess we were in. They were friendly, kind, and caring. They gave us food and then offered to help in whatever way they could.
My friend wanted to get a job so they offered to help her get her Food Handler's Certificate. The next day, she went to the drop in center and by 3pm, she had her Certificate and was able to start looking for jobs.
I know that if I need anything, YouthHope will be there. They will help in a practical way that will help my future immediately.
I can call them and they will be there to help. They are so proud of how I'm changing my future and they believe in me.
So next time you're out shopping, remember that not everyone you meet has the same life as you and even a smile can help someone's day!
I first found out about YouthHope after I got out of prison for arson. I was young and I knew I needed some help with getting back on my feet.
Being in prison changes you. You can show weakness, you have to be tough. I brought that toughness out of prison and into my life.
So when I walked in YouthHope, I was stone cold. No one could bother me or break me. I wasn't about to open up and share my soul or my weaknesses with anyone.
To my surprise, no one forced me to talk about my past. They accepted me for who I am and what I was willing to share. YouthHope wanted to help, but never pressured me to do more than what I was comfortable with.
I was able to use almost every program at YouthHope to help me get on my feet. I came for meals every day and I took home groceries for me and my siblings. I utilized the computer lab and Case Managers helped me make a resume, take the Food Handlers Certificate and get help with getting a job. They took me to interviews and helped me with interview questions. I went to the dentist with the help of YouthHope and even lived in the YouthHope housing for a while.
They did all of this even though I rarely said thank you, even though I wouldn't show up for appointments or cancel last minute. They continued to help.
It's been about 2 years since I've been to YouthHope. I now have a full time job, I'm married, and we are expecting our first chil.
Now that I'm self-sufficient and working towards a bright future, I can honestly say that none of this would have been possible without YouthHope.
They took me in when no one else would. They didn't judge me based on my past decisions and gave me the practical tools I needed.
Instead of just giving me a list of what to do, they walked me through each step. They taught me how to be responsible and be a man of my word. I wasn't taught basic life skills or how to follow through and YouthHope took the time to do that.
I will be forever grateful to YouthHope!
"New Normal" or "We are all in the same boat together"?
Let's begin with the first untruth... nothing was normal before COVID-19, long hours away from your family, spending too much money eating out, needing a small loan to go to Disneyland and rushing from one place to another. Nothing is normal now.
Now a second falsehood; we are not all in the same boat. We may all be in the same storm, but our boats are very different. Some boats are already shipped wrecked, some are safely harbored and a many are headlong into the storm.
Some boats may be nice and dry, some boats may be bailing water and a few may be frantically patching their bows. Some boats can carry family and friends, some boats can carry two passengers and many are sailing alone. We are all experiencing this storm from a different angle at a different force and under different conditions. It's the same story but it feels very, very, very different.
Some families received a stimulus check and are feeling grateful, some families did not and are feeling perplexed. Some are enjoying self-quarantine and a chance to disconnect, some are quarantined in fear and desperate to connect. Some are living in the very home they started from and some have been torn from their home. Some always had a home to go to, some never did. Some have faith and believe their lives will be turned upright in the end and some have lost more than their faith can bare and are turned upside-down.
Some can see from the crest of the wave, the horizon and a soft-landing spot ahead, some are still being tossed around violently with only a view of the jagged rocks below. Some are enjoying an increase of pay from the government funding while some have just had funding cut and lost a job. Some are caught in the nightmare of a loved one touched by COVID-19 disease and some are untouched merrily floating down the stream of dreams. Some are in the isolation of loneliness while some are enjoying the alone time of isolation. Some are calling out for more of the same while some are angrily demanding to just get out.
The new normal should look less like some Hollywood rock super TV Internet YouTube Twitter star telling me I was in the same boat as them and more like the people in the surrounding storm reaching out to those that are drifting way further and further to sea.
The new normal might look more like this; with unspoken words. When someone is suffering, being there, standing with the weak, sitting with the broken-hearted, caring. The gift of our time presence, bringing health to the heart, strength to the tired and empowering the weak. Any chance we could just call this normal?
When COVID-19 started, we anticipated how hard this would be for our youth. We knew that they would be scared and would need us to continue to serve them food, be available to talk, and provide services. We were fully prepared with how we were going to handle each of our youth.
What we weren't expecting were the immense amount of families that would need assistance. These haven't been the typical families that you would expect either. The families who have needed assistance are families who own nice cars, who have nice houses, and kids in club sports, and where both parents have great jobs. But COVID. COVID-19 has brought lives to a screeching halt.
Many families don't have an income, don't have money to go grocery shopping and are now stressing out about how they are going to feed their families.
When we started getting the phone calls, we knew we had to help. We quickly started putting boxes of groceries together to help.
We've been able to continue to serve the families along with our youth for the entire month of April.
Many of the families can't afford gas to come pick up the groceries, we so pack up boxes and drop off the food at their doorsteps.
Being able to take away the additional stress of providing groceries has allowed so many families to focus on other areas of their lives during this uncertain time.
You might be reading this and can relate to the stress of not knowing how you're going to feed your family tonight or tomorrow. Please reach out to us and we would love to give you some groceries. We have been blessed by our community with an abundance of food and would love to help families in need.
Please call (909) 793-2345. We're in the office Monday-Thursday 8am-5pm.
Jill had a great job at a local warehouse. Higher than average pay, benefits, ability to promote. She loved it and got several family members jobs there as well. When Covid-19 hit, they closed the warehouse without pay. So they went from a family of 4 bringing in income, to zero income. Frantically, they went to apply for EBT/food stamps and were denied. They were scared, hungry, and hopeless. She brought her family to YouthHope and we were able to provide a weeks worth of groceries to help them through this time.
On a good day, Steven and his family struggle to make it. Between shelters, and asking for money, they barely make it. Once Covid-19 came, they weren't even making it. They stopped by and were able to take groceries that consisted mostly of tortillas. We asked them what they were gonna make with the tortillas, they replied that their apartment complex was trading groceries to make sure everyone had what they needed. What a beautiful concept to think outside of ourselves and to help others.
The Redlands Police Department sent Joe over to YouthHope. Joe was homeless and was trying to get back to Florida to be with his family. He was scared and didn't have anything but an empty backpack. We were able to fill his backpack with hygiene items and snacks to help him while he was on the bus riding back to Florida.
Maria called us and said she got our number from online. She claimed she did have kids that fit our age range, and she was much too old for our programs, but she wasn't able to buy food for her family because her husband lost his job because of Covid-19. We offered to let them come down and pick up some groceries because we are all in this together and we wanted to help them!
It’s exhausting. This street life. I’ve been out here for a few years and it hasn’t seemed to get easier. Every day, I wake up worried about where I’m going to get food, where I’m going to store all my stuff so it won’t get stolen, asking for money, and not getting in trouble.
I’ve tried getting off the streets before. I put in a good effort of going to rehab, listening to the rules, doing my best, but within weeks, I was back on the streets. It was too hard. I wasn’t able to stop my street ways.
I started going to YouthHope shortly after I started living on the streets. I knew that they would always be there for me. They weren't going anywhere. They loved me despite my addictions. They encouraged me, but also respected me and my decisions. They provided the necessities like food and clothing and hygiene items without asking for anything in return.
They’ve always been there.
That’s why when I had the scariest night of my life, I turned to them.
That night started off like every other night. I found a place behind an abandoned building to sleep. What I didn't know about that location, was that this was a gang’s spot. They beat me pretty bad and left me with nothing.
When I got out the next morning, I went straight to YouthHope. They sat with me and laid out all of my options. They asked if I had family that I could go to and I thought of my dad in Ohio. I haven’t seen him in years, but he’s stable, has a room for me, and could help me get on my feet.
Once I made my mind up, Heidi took me to the bus stop immediately, paid for my $200 bus ticket and gave me the biggest hug.
I hopped on that bus and never looked back. I’m so much happier now that I’m off the streets. I have a job, looking into trade schools, and I’m sober.
Without the help of YouthHope through the years, I wouldn't of trusted them enough to ask for help in my darkest hour. I knew they would be there and they were.
Thank you YouthHope for loving me and being a stable and trustworthy place.
I grew up in a toxic environment. My parents hated each other. They had me when I was young and stayed together because they felt that would be better. It wasn't. My dad started beating my mom pretty early in my life. They had more kids and it was a nightmare every day. Fighting and hitting and yelling all day long.
From a young age I learned to stay out of my house as long as I could. I would find excuses to stay at school longer or spend the night at friends. My parents were too busy fighting to notice I was gone. Unfortunately, the people who I hung out with weren't the best examples. I found drugs when I was barely 12 years old. I used it as an escape to avoid the drama with my parents.
As I got older, the less time I would spend at home. My parents ended up getting divorced and even though it was the best thing for them, it broke me even more. I would stay out for weeks at a time. Anyone's house was better than my broken house. I got deeper and deeper into addiction until I found myself sleeping at a local park.
It's a dangerous place on the streets at night, and I learned very quickly that I needed to get my life together.
I asked one of my friend's parents for help and she immediately took me to YouthHope. Everyone at YouthHope was so nice. They sat and listened to me and my problems and were ready to help with whatever I needed.
I'm now enrolled back in school, have eye glasses, and have a dentist appointment coming up.
One thing I really like about YouthHope is the fact tat they meet you where you are at. They don't push you to do anything that you're not ready to do.
They waited until I was ready to go back to school. They waited until I wanted to go see the doctor. They listen and they respect everyone that walks through the door.
Thank you to YouthHope for helping me and reminding me that it's never too late to start bettering my life.
My story starts long before I was born. My parents met as drug addicts and lived their entire lives being addicted. Me and my brother are twins and were born into that toxic environment and we weren't removed from the home until we were 3 years old. When the police came to remove us, we were surrounded by dirty needles, no running water, and no food. They described it as being one of the worst situations they've had to deal with.
We moved in with my grandmother. Although she was able to provide a safe, warm house, she didn't wants us. She had done her job at child raising and wanted to enjoy retirement. Little did we know the pain that was coming a few short years later.
My uncle moved in with my grandmother. There was nothing that could prepare us for the monster that this man was. He abused us in any way possible. Relentless, violently, and forcibly, he took everything from us. Every instance of rape removed another piece of humanity from us.
When these allegations were made, it was all denied and we are left being called liars and story makers.
We had to make a decision to leave. Even though we had nowhere to go, we had to turn our backs on what had happened and start a life for ourselves.
One day, the Activity Director from YouthHope came to talk to us at school. He talked about all the services that they provide and the fun, safe things to do there. I decided to go because I was desperate fro help.
It changed everything.
I was given a community of people who loved and cared for me. A basketball league, housing, bus passes, school supplies, shoes, hot meals, counselors, and suicide awareness classes. Now I have dreams for a better life. I know that I can achieve them because there are people supporting me.
Unfortunately, the same isn't true for my brother. He didn't come to YouthHope and the drugs, genetics, and trauma has left him in a mental illness that he cannot escape.
I search for him when I have a free second. I miss him and wish he could see what YouthHope can do for him.
I am so thankful for YouthHope for a hope reborn and a place where dreams can be accomplished.