I remember reading an article in a local newspaper roughly four years ago about the rising homeless population in my county … for youth. At that time, when someone mentioned the “homeless”, I had a stereotype in my mind, and it certainly wasn’t sixteen to twenty-one year olds. Back then, the number of homeless youth was estimated at 500 in our county alone. Now I’ve read estimates that put the homeless youth population at around 700!
Reading that article, and then finding several more news stories all talking about the same problem, is what birthed the idea for my new release, Hungry for Home.
And thankfully, that news also prompted others to take action as a group of local citizens banded together to figure out what could be done to serve the youth. The idea for Hope 4 Youth was conceived in November of 2012, and by March 2013, the doors were opened!
Right now Hope 4 Youth serves as a place where homeless teens can drop in to get a hot meal, a warm shower, a place to play, learn, and just be a kid. The facilities also have a food pantry and clothes closet and they provide for all the basic everyday needs most of us take for granted.
They currently don’t have overnight shelter, but that’s in the works. In the meantime, the organization provides resources for the youth to help find shelter, including a host family network that takes in the youth. Otherwise the youth end up on the streets, couch hopping, sleeping in cars, tents, parks, abandoned buildings, sheds, anywhere they can get out of the elements. And you can imagine how severe those elements are in Minnesota during the winter.
Hope 4 Youth has many areas where people can get involved, including meal serving. It’s truly an opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
One small way I hope to raise awareness about the homeless youth problem is with Austin Lang’s story in Hungry for Home. You have an opportunity to win an autographed copy of this novel by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.
After a troubling encounter with a pregnant teen, Sheila Peterson-Brooks hurries from the crisis pregnancy center into the frigid Minnesota winter where she is mugged and left for dead. After a frantic search, Richard, her husband, finds her, and the police quickly nab the mugger …
A hungry, homeless teen.
The brother of the pregnant girl Sheila had just counseled.
The girl pleads for her brother, and Sheila and Richard choose not to press charges. Instead, they open their home to the boy, a move that could cost them their possessions, and their hearts.
And, in the process, teach them the true meaning of home.
The contest runs from Sept. 14 to 12:00 am on September 26. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, answering the question:
“What charity (or charities) are close to your heart?”