There was never enough money in my house. Never enough food. Never a safe place. In between staying with people, we slept in hotels, and in our car. Ya, all 8 of us in a little old beat up car. In the summer it was too hot for us to sleep so close together so we would sleep outside, on the ground, on the hood, I didn’t like the bugs crawling on me so my favorite spot was in the trunk of the car. I would leave the trunk open a little and put all of our clothes on top so it made a pretty soft bed and I could stretch my legs and even though it smelled a little like gasoline, I imagined that was what it might feel like to have my own bed in my very own room.
The winter was more difficult. You can’t hide from the cold, or the smell, or the constant cramping that came from staying in the same position so you didn’t bother anybody else. We never wanted to argue or fight or do anything that would wake up my dad, no one wanted him to get angry.
One day we were at the park and these two people showed up with some snacks and told us about a place where we could go get clothes and a hot meal. That’s when we learned about YouthHope.
We shared about our struggles and the staff at YouthHope took immediate action to help us. They helped my sister get her GED, they helped me get a bus pass and get back into school, and they got us all into safe housing so we didn't have to sleep in such an unsafe place.
My parents are in prison now. I don’t want to think about what would of happened if we didn't find YouthHope. We would probably be in a really bad place.
I’ve been homeless since I was 13. I’ve lived with my friend’s while couch surfing and recently started sleeping in my car. My home life was never good. My mom has a drug problem and I’ve never met my dad. These series of events have caused me severe depression. I don’t have any resources to help my depression and some days are so dark.
One thing that keeps me going is skateboarding. It brings me joy, brings me friends, and I’m pretty good at it. On most days, you can find me at the local skatepark. I’m usually there most of the day. I can skate and forget about the world. I’ve made some great friends at the skate park that I consider my family now. Skating is the best part of me.
A lot of the people that I spend my day with at the skatepark are in the same shoes as me. They’re poor, live in unstable houses, have parents with drug/alcohol substance abuse problems, do drugs themselves, etc. A lot of us need help. We need help from other people besides our family, because our family is unstable.
Last April, we started to noticed this group coming twice a day to give us food and drinks. We found out quickly that they were here to stay. We’ve never had any sort of organizations come and offer help like YouthHope did.
After a few weeks, I was curious what YouthHope was. I started having conversations every time YouthHope came to bring us food. I learned that they do way more than just food and drinks and I got to talk to the Director, Heidi. I got to sit down and get real about my depression. She was so helpful and immediately started calling people to get me the help I need. I’m now in therapy to help with my depression. Heidi also listened to my passion for skating. She encouraged me to follow my skating dreams and even went and bought me new wrist guards. It shows that they care about us as a whole lot. They care about our mental health, but they also care about the parts of us that give us joy, like skateboarding.
I can’t wait for their Drop In Center to open back up so that I can go visit them. I know that I will use their computer lab for future job searches and find clothes in their clothing pantry. Thank you YouthHope for all that you continue to do for the youth in our community.
Working at YouthHope allows me to see a variety of different people and different personali-ties. I get to meet and hang out with many vibrant youth who are determined to reach their dreams despite the unending challenges.
Since we’ve been consistently going to the park for about a year now, the kids know our car and come right over when they see us park. They line up to get a meal and water and then sit down to enjoy their food. We get to talk to them and listen to their stories, hear about their day, laugh at their jokes, and even skate with them.
As the youth finish their meals and continue skating or head home, there are a few youth who always stay back to talk to us. They tell us how this is the only meal they’ve had all day and how they haven't had any water.
It shocked me how many of our youth rely on us to keep our word. To know that if we don’t show up at the park, they don’t get a meal that day. They trust us and we at YouthHope don’t take that lightly. We want them to know that we are reliable and we are trustworthy.
Ever since I knew about many of the youth only getting our meal during the day, I always make sure we have leftovers to send home with them. I help them wrap it up and put it in their backpacks so they can discreetly take home food without being embarrassed. No one should go to bed hungry and I’m glad our youth felt safe enough to reach out for help.
My hope is that they continue to trust us and we can help them with other needs like Food Handlers Certificates, job searching, school help, and medical help.
The youth continue to teach me so much about life and I hope that as I continue to show up for them, that they will continue to show up for them-selves and push towards their goals even when life seems to be against them.
I’ve always been able to provide for me and my family. I’ve never had to ask for help. I’m a single mom of 3 living in an apartment.
I’ve always had good jobs that pay well. I’m not rich, but I’m definitely able to pay my bills and do fun activities with my children. That is, until COVID hit.
I quickly lost my job as a waitress and didn't know how long it would be before I could get a new job. I applied for unemployment and have done my best to live within my means.
It’s been so hard to be able to keep food on the table, stay on top of my bills, and buy just the necessities.
I started working with food courier companies to try to offset my bills, but it still was a struggle every week.
I saw a post on Facebook about YouthHope offering groceries to anyone in the community. As much as my pride didn't want to admit that I needed help, I knew it would be best for my family to have fresh groceries for them.
I stopped by YouthHope and was amazed at the generosity that I was shown. I was shown kindness, love, and respect.
The food we received was fresh, high quality food that I felt very comfortable feeding my kids.
They saw that I had kids in the car and added fun desserts in my grocery boxes to brighten up their day.
I was also told to come back if I needed more and I cannot explain the relief that I felt knowing that I had a place that could help me again if I needed it.
I have several other ex co-workers that are in the same place and I was able to share this resource with them as well.
I can’t wait till I am in a better place and I can give back to YouthHope. This small gesture that they have shown has made me view the world in a different way.
I will never judge someone again. You never know what someone is going through and why they may need some help.
Thank you YouthHope for the help and for showing me how to be a better person in this world.
I’m not homeless, but I’m poor. My parents have always tried to provide for us, but its never been easy. They don’t have an education, they jump from job to job, and we usually are short on funds every month.
I spend most of my time at the local skatepark. It’s an escape from my life and I like the people there. I noticed YouthHope earlier in the year when they continually showed up with food and water and clothes. I always take food from them because I’m not guaranteed food when I get home.
Around October, the people from YouthHope started talking about free shoes for Christmas. The part that really shocked me was that the shoes would be wrapped. In wrapping paper!
I’ve never received a wrapped gift before. Ever! Living in poverty means gifts are rare. And wrapped gifts are even rarer.
I signed up the first day that I was able to and then waited impatiently until the day of the party.
I showed up the day of the party and ran right up to the cars to get my shoes. When they gave me my first wrapped gift, I didn't want to unwrap it. I wanted to keep it wrapped. I wanted to keep it as a reminder that I’m loved and cared for.
I was supposed to try on the shoes before I left the park, but I didn't. I didn't want to unwrap it. I waited a few days before I opened them and kept the wrapping paper.
I can’t wait for next Christmas where I can get another wrapped pair of shoes from YouthHope. Until then, I have a goal to better my life.
I’m going to try harder in school, do my homework, and be a better listener to my parents. I have a goal to be in a better spot next year when I receive my wrapped gift.
YouthHope believes in me and has offered to help me anytime I need it.
Thank you YouthHope for being a constant source of help in my life and for giving me a new sense of belonging and drive.