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Seeing homelessness in our hometown
March 4, 2015

By Sandy Braun, as sent to Sakinah Mujahid, FMF-SW associate program manager | Thank you for partnering with some of our youth in Scott County as they learned about homelessness right here in our county and perhaps broadened their views and opened their hearts.

When my 12- and 14-year-olds decided to do a service learning project with their youth ambassador program within Scott County 4H, they knew they wanted to do something with homelessness.

We had recently made a trip to Chicago, and while walking around town experienced a underpass filled with homeless people living there. I assured them that although not as visible, there was homelessness right where we live – sometimes difficult for youth to understand when it’s not so visible to them.

They started their research on homelessness and available shelters in our area online. They soon came to Families Moving Forward and Beacon and the unique shelter arrangement housed at Shepherd of the Lake Church in Prior Lake.  

They began to solicit donations and found it to be amazingly easy to obtain donations from our community businesses. Then, at a retreat on leadership, many of the kids also asked for donations and supplies were given.

Next, we gathered in Jordan one evening and Maria, my daughter, presented a poster and talk on homelessness in our community. The kids were challenged by a few questions she came up with and a great discussion came about amongst these 30-some 6th through 12th graders.

They then sorted and assembled kits of personal items such as soap, socks, razors and toothpaste, and decided to include notes of encouragement and hope.

When Maria and I stopped in the other day to drop off the kits, we were greeted by a flurry of small children who without hesitation just wanted to interact…this really struck Maria and she said as we left, “That was so cool! I would like to visit there again sometime, Mom, maybe just read and play with them.”

In our research, Maria and I also learned that the church has made a one-year commitment to house the program center. That left us curious, what is happening going forward from Mother’s Day this year? [Ed. note: Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church has extended its commitment by six months but Beacon is still in search of a permanent program center in the area.]

Thank you for your willingness to allow these youth to stretch their minds and hearts. Thank you for the blessing you are and the work you do daily.

Sandy Braun
Sandy is a volunteer leader with the Scott County 4H.