Reflections on A Night on the Street 2017
On Nov 28th, I spent the night on the street again, this time with a couple clients of ours in partnership to raise awareness and funding for Youth Unlimited’s street life program.
Preparing for this year was a very different experience than it was last year. Gone was the curiosity and anticipation of the unknown. I knew what I was getting myself into and I was not looking forward to giving up the comforts I’ve worked so hard to secure. And I don’t just mean my cozy bed and heated house.
Comforts are connected to our sanity and well-being. In this context, they could almost be translated into “securities.” Those things we know we can fall back on if things get hard. Surrounded by those comforts we take so for granted, it is easy to look at folks on the street and ask, “Why don’t they just get a job?” “Why don’t they make better choices?” After spending a night on the street without many of those comforts, I would challenge us all, myself included, to see things differently. I propose that stripped of our comforts, any one of us is no more than 48 hours away from being homeless.
“Surrounded by those comforts we take so for granted, it is easy to look at folks on the street and ask, “Why don’t they just get a job?” “Why don’t they make better choices?” After spending a night on the street without many of those comforts, I would challenge us all, myself included, to see things differently.”
Stepping Into Their Shoes
Imagine yourself getting off a bus at ten o’clock at night in a foreign city. No money or job. No cell phone, or anyone to call if you had one. Nothing but what you are wearing and some snacks in a backpack. Your first night is exhausting. You wander around for most of it because you’re too anxious to stop anywhere, worried about tomorrow and your safety with no one watching your back. The next day you’re exhausted, starving and not thinking clearly. Your priority has already shifted from getting a job to meeting your basic needs. This is the part that blows my mind, after one night! Trust me.
Last year, I talked about some of the homeless survivors that Kris and I met while we spent the night on the street. Doing it again this year gave me an even greater appreciation for how remarkable their transitions out of the street are. These folks are STRONG and have overcome significant challenges in their lives. They have scars and demons they fight everyday to stay off the street, but still take the time to give encouragement to the folks not out yet. More than just survivors, I would consider them warriors and role models, not only for the folks that are struggling on the street and trying to get out, but for the rest of us as well. I have much respect for their strength!
Counting Our Blessings
As I reflect on my night and all the people I met, I am reminded that not everyone is blessed with the platform of security my parents provided for me. Thanks Mom and Dad! I had no control over the family I was born into, the opportunities my parents’ hard work provided, nor the luck and divine provision that followed. Without this, my life may have taken a very different trajectory.
“I had no control over the family I was born into, the opportunities my parents’ hard work provided, nor the luck and divine provision that followed. Without this, my life may have taken a very different trajectory.”
Youth Unlimited comes alongside those kids, most of whom are not so blessed, to provide the support and encouragement they need to live positive, productive lives. Your support helps Youth Unlimited give at risk youth a stronger start and foundation to grow from. This year, your generous donations helped us raise $7,325 for Youth Unlimited. Please partner with us to raise even more for Youth Unlimited in 2018 to provide a strong financial platform to continue their mission!
About Youth Unlimited
A place of connection and transformation, Youth Unlimited helps young people discover their potential. If they feel alone, marginalized, vulnerable or just need somewhere fun but safe to connect to we’re here to walk with them, help them learn life skills, support their growth as a person, and discover their potential. We do this through activities, arts, sports, camps, drop-in centres, youth groups and a myriad of other programs accessible throughout Greater Vancouver.
Visit Youth Unlimited’s website to learn more and to support their great work.