On April 20, I participated in the first annual “Sleep Out Columbus” in which 70 people slept outside to raise money for and awareness about youth homelessness in central Ohio. All of these people were doing this for one night. I cannot imagine doing this every night. I especially cannot imagine being a child or a teenager doing this every night. As I prepare to begin my fundraising for the 2019 Sleep Out and educating my family and friends about youth homelessness, I have been reflecting on my gratitude for Huck House.
I am thankful for Huck House being there for our at-risk youth, for providing a safe place to sleep, for providing the tools, resources, and services that a family and a community should provide.
I am thankful for Huck House staff who meet with at-risk youth daily who have lost so much in their life, including their self-esteem. Many who come to Huck House have been experiencing loss, violence, abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma. I am thankful that Huck House staff is there to acknowledge their struggle, respond holistically, and find ways to highlight their resilience and survival. I am thankful that Huck House is consistent in meeting their needs and proving that Huck House is worthy of their trust. I am grateful that the Huck House Crisis Program makes family reunification a priority whenever possible while providing alternatives when that cannot be an option.
I am thankful for the Huck House Transitional Living Program, for providing safe homes for homeless transition-age youth, ages 18-22, and their children and at the same time teaching life skills from conflict resolution, to effective communication, from anger management, to coping. Huck House creates the space for these individuals to feel accepted and helps support them so that they can stay healthy and hopeful to learn how to make better decisions.
I am thankful for the Huck House counselor’s hard work helping teens and families develop skills they can use to tackle their issues. The counselors then connect them with community resources for housing, employment, education, and government assistance.
I am thankful for the Huck House Youth Outreach Program. The staff at YOP go to our at-risk youth who won’t come to Huck House on their own. They meet kids on their own turf, and provide a safe place for them to go to obtain services and resources.
This is the time of year many start to think about donating to certain causes and want to help those in our community who are less fortunate. I find myself often wondering “What would it be like to be grateful for the kindness of others every single day in order to survive?” Being on the Board of Huckleberry House since 2015, I have come to understand the true meaning of gratitude. I am grateful to be a part of an organization that is making lasting change in the lives of young people.
-Jessica Barwell, Huckleberry House Board Member