Last spring one of the junior high students asked if we could go to a homeless shelter. The others quickly joined in. Since then we've worked towards that goal and on Friday, Jan. 31st 7 junior high PIE Club students went to Haven for Hope to volunteer and take a tour of the facility.
After we arrived, one of the staff led us on an hour tour of the facility. The group saw:
the intake center
catery and dog kennel,
the learning rooms for the younger kids and teens to work on homework and receive tutoring,
the center for volunteer barbers and hairdressers
the room that can be converted on cold nights to accommodate an extra 100 adults,
the resident halls (from the outside) and more
They learned about:
why there is a catery and kennel (before they existed, some that needed help wouldn't come to Haven for Hope because they didn't want to leave their pet behind),
the reasons someone may experience homelessness,
the services Haven for Hope provides to help them successfully live on their own,
how a police officer monitors the train tracks because sad or mentally ill residents may try to commit suicide when a train goes through,
the services provided by volunteer hairdressers and barbers (and the impact having a haircut has on the recipients self-worth, especially when it's been a long time since they were last able to do that)
and so much more.
As we toured, the kids asked really great questions and were engaged.
Next we went to the donation center. Our guide showed us the items the outreach team uses, the items residents are given when they move out and the "store" where they can select clothing.
Then we got to work hanging recent donations on the clothing racks. The kids jumped right in and in 45 minutes had put away 6 racks of clothing. The staff in the donation center complimented the kids and said they were the best group she's seen. She could tell they wanted to be there.
Next we stopped for lunch at Whataburger on our way back to school. The first student that got her food found a table that all 9 of us could sit. We normally meet across three lunch periods and Friday was the first time we had the opportunity to all be together. It's 7th and 8th graders and although they know each other, they tend to be part of different friend groups. They all got along and talked together. It felt like a little family. They truly are a special group. The group impressed me throughout the day.