Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Chris is a homeless youth in Salt Lake City, Utah. He travels coast to coast in search of different stomping grounds depending on the weather, available resources, and the interactions he has in each city. When we first met Chris, he quietly refused to be filmed or photographed. Which seemed strange to me, because he appeared to be one of the leaders in the small group that we were interviewing. I will never forget how it felt to speak with him. His demeanor was tender and tempered with the kind of wisdom that can only come from having been deeply wounded.
He watched from a distance as we interviewed and filmed the other youth, but he did not seem energetically withdrawn. It was as if he was used to being disregarded, so he stayed out of everyone's way. But he was still eager inside to be a part of everything going on around him.
He strapped on his large army backpack and then sat on the ground and leaned way back. This motion turned his backpack into a make-shift recliner that he could easily rest against. I am always astonished at how creatively these youth make everything work to their advantage. Especially when they own almost nothing.
Chris and I talked for awhile and I realized as we spoke that interviewing these youth was going to be harder than I imagined. Because I couldn't see any reason why Chris should even be homeless. I wanted to take him home and let him live in our spare bedroom. But I knew I couldn't do that. And then I felt guilty for even having a spare bedroom, while knowing these youth were sleeping outside or in abandoned buildings every night. I wanted to take them all home. And I wanted to find Chris's parents and throw a 400 person protest on their front lawn!
It was extremely apparent to me that with the adequate resources and guidance, Chris would be able to expand on his inherent talents and quite possibly become a leader within our community.
Chris is amazing and genuine and worth so much more than having to live in survival mode every day just getting by. It angers me to know he is still out there. He is one of the reasons we need to establish a well funded over-night homeless youth facility in Utah.