The first moment I hobbled in from the rain to the doorway of YouthCare’s Orion Center, I was greeted by a young man in a hoodie outside whose hands were cracked from the winter weather carrying his duffel bag. He smiled with wind-burned cheeks and recognized my uncertainty. “Here to volunteer?” he knowingly asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll get someone.” He knocked on the gated front door until a worker came to let me in. He then smiled and said, “Thank you.”
I wiped my drizzling boots on the rug and took in the air that smelled of turkey, laundry, must and bleach. This building was different. The air was different. It was loud with the stories of thousands of youth who everyday brave our Seattle streets alone, it was filled with the poetry of friendships cultivated over its daily meals at communal tables, and it was brimming with something else too. Something deafening. Hope.
The emergency shelter was built to meet the basic needs of homeless young adults, providing overnight housing for 20 homeless youth ages 18-24 nightly, as well as a hot shower, a place to do laundry, and a warm meal. In addition, the facility connects its guests with needed services such as options for more permanent housing, schooling, medical services, and job training and even has an onsite barista training program.
Champions Foundation has partnered with YouthCare for over five years now, providing dinner up to twice a month, brunch on Saturdays, and various holiday parties and special events throughout the year. Our volunteers provide the ingredients, cook all the food, and clean up the commercial kitchen when our time there is complete.
The tasks are simple enough. But, the impact is far from small.
The dirt under his fingernails, or tremble of her hand as they pass through the dinner line is not going to be cured by meatloaf and potatoes. The loneliness, hurt, and fear they carry inside day in and day out, will not be resolved by our homemade brownies. That’s true. But, what we DO give each young adult is a direct love line from our hands to their heart: A refuge from the drizzle that beats at them day and night in the streets— the cold that they never find relief from.
We give an example of pure love and genuine care without condition, which is a very foreign and unknown example of love for most. For a moment, the youth are able to come inside where it’s safe and warm, and where each individual life greatly matters.
To serve humbly in love with the other awesome volunteers of Champions Foundation (which have become my very best friends), is to give a gift much more than a full belly. I will forever be awed by the powerful grace God’s service creates, and forever changed by the souls that come in from the rain to a warm meal at YouthCare.
–Elisabeth, Champions Foundation Team.
Sign up HERE to join us at our next YouthCare Event.