Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It's amazing how different people treat you when they think you're homeless. Most people can't even stand to look at you and you are treated as though you are a constant inconvenience. When Chloe and I began this journey, I was able to deal with being pushed around and talked to like I was trash by disassociating it. But now on the second part of our journey, I am filled with anger and resentment towards the people who talk down to us and treat us with disrespect. There are days when everything seems to go perfectly, our spirits are high and we are able to laugh and joke about the difficulties we experience. But then law enforcement, shop owners, and the like come along who are mean and condescending. They tell us that we are not welcome here. If I was sitting on the side of a building wearing a nice suit and looked like I had money, would they say that to me? I highly doubt it. How can people be so quick to judge based on the way one looks when there is so much diversity in this country? One of the hardest things I've experienced on this journey is the constant dehumanization. It breaks you down, destroys your spirit, and causes you to lose faith in humanity. When someone approaches me in those moments I find myself reacting with anger before they even say a word. And a lot of times, all that person wanted to do was give me a dollar or a sandwich. My eyes fill with tears and I am ashamed when I realize that I have forgotten once again that there are still kind and caring human beings in this world. Now I understand and have compassion for the homeless who are aggressive and sometimes verbally attack you when you walk by with your coffee and breakfast muffin. You see, we give what we receive, it's just human nature. I ask all of you who read this to think twice the next time you pass a homeless person on the street. You would be amazed at what a simple smile and nod can do for the human spirit.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
I was going to post some basic info about the SLC Shine. Instead I am writing this letter from my heart - to ALL of you - across this nation.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Katrina is an LGBTQ homeless youth in Utah. What moved me right away about Katrina's story is that she lives indoors as a homeless youth, yet spoke of some of the same kinds of mental and emotional hardships as the homeless youth living outdoors.
"I stay in the womens’ shelter, where there are no resources for youth my age," Katrina told me. "Teenagers need more sleep and have completely different needs than adults."
Homeless shelters are not available to youth in Utah. This means that Utah has a higher percentage of homeless youth living outdoors than the national average. While some LGBTQ youth like Katrina (who are under the age of 20), stay in adult shelters, they still have a hard time getting all of their needs met and risk further discrimination.
"I'm kind of stuck in two worlds," she told me. "At the women's shelter there is no one there that I can depend on. And because I stay at the adult shelter, sometimes I am treated differently by the other kids. We are all family here [at the Homeless Youth Resource Center]. But it would be nice if we could all live together in one place - somewhere safe where we would be allowed to grow up and get all of our needs met."
The Homeless Youth Resource Center (VOA.UT) provides resources and programs for homeless youth. The Utah Pride Center also does what it can to help LGBTQ in crisis. Because of lack of funding, these organizations and others like them can only offer limited resources to the youth they serve.
Katrina made it clear to me that homeless youth are just like youth with families. When they get their basic needs met, they want to do other things than just survive. They want to go to college and become active members of the community. Katrina spoke to me of her dreams to go to college and someday make a living doing something she loves.
"It is hard to be homeless, whether or not you stay in a shelter," she told me. "I know many kids out here who feel alone and abandoned. No matter what, it seems like we have been left behind. It is weird to me that some people think we are asking for so much. We are only asking that we have a chance - a chance to show you who we are. And not even that - sometimes we are only asking for breakfast. How is that any different than any other kid?"
The Homeless Youth Resource Center recently lost funding that helped provide homeless youth breakfast. Within a matter of days after hearing Katrina speak at our Launch Event, Ginger Phillips (a simple member of our community), made it possible for the homeless youth in Salt Lake City to receive breakfast everyday. Now her church, the Sacred Light of Christ, donates their time, energy, and resources to make sure this happens.
This is a powerful example of how one passionate person can make a positive impact and of how the community itself can reach out to these youth in need.
Katrina can be seen as a guest speaker at our Utah Launch event on our YouTube channel OperationShine. LINK: KATRINA