Each and every night, when I lay my son Luke down in his crib, I say to him, “God is with you, and loves you, every day and every night…and so do I.”
It’s that love for a child that brought me to tears when I learned last year that our state’s funding commitment to the Homeless Youth Act was only $238,000…or 13 cents per homeless youth, per night. Surely, every child’s safety and stability is worth more than that. I deeply believed that, but I didn’t know what to do about it until Beacon introduced me to the Beacon Citizens network.
I am not a professional advocate…but Beacon Citizens made me feel like I was. By providing me with regular updates about the Homeless Youth Act, I became educated about this issue. By providing me with action alerts, I knew how and when to reach out effectively to my state legislator. By connecting me to more than1,300 other Beacon Citizens, I felt empowered to make a difference. Beacon made it easy…and it WORKED, and not only for me, but for 110 members of my congregation, Edina Community Lutheran Church, who also became Beacon Citizens.
Now, 110 members of ECLC are listening for news about youth homelessness...and are inspired to now take the next step: to seek land to build the first supportive youth housing in the western suburbs!
We are here celebrating at the future site of Prior Crossing because the Homeless Youth Act is now funded at $4 million and will benefit an estimated 1,000 youth…through case management services, through meeting basic needs, and hopefully, ultimately a home to lay down in at night.
But, Beacon Citizens did even more than that: they mobilized us to believe our voices CAN be heard, that our legislators ARE listening, and that the underdog can be successful in our government.
Tonight, we celebrate three things: the funding of the Homeless Youth Act, the future site of Prior Crossing as safe stable housing for youth, and the hope and promise of youth housing in the western suburbs. Thank you for your passion for homeless youth, for your presence tonight, for your advocacy…and building Nicollet Square, creating Prior Crossing, and dreaming with me as we plan to build supportive housing for homeless youth in our area.
Most of all, thank you, all of you in this crowd, for making it possible for youth to know as they crawl into bed each night, that they are not alone…they have thousands of you watching out for them.
-By Lauren Morse-Wendt