Another dream is forming….In 2011, HomePlate served 47 youth at its Christmas Store. This year, on Monday, December 17, we served 64 youth. Volunteers provided gift wrapping help and card-making projects. Four HomePlate “grads” and friends prepared and served dinner for the youth and 25 volunteers. Professional photographer, Tom Jacquemin, took free family photos continuously throughout the evening. So many gifts had been donated that the store was available at the following Wednesday and Thursday night dinners as well. That week, just under 100 youth participated in the 2012 project.
Contributions of gifts, supplies, dinner, and desserts were amazingly generous. Coordination for the project was a model of excellent planning. The spirit of community sharing was awesome and joyful.
I was proud to be part of HomePlate. We want to do it again next year!
But another dream is forming.
Even before I read Kay Ellison’s comment to my last post, I was remembering a time long ago, when having a job was not a luxury. My eldest brother became a hero to his three sibs when with his first paycheck he bought my mother a Christmas present…and not from Olson’s Five ‘n Dime! It was a full set of Melmac dishes. (Melmac is an early indestructible plastic, available in muddy pink or bilious teal, probably still found in landfills.) What I remember is her pride in him, and his bursting pride in himself.
HomePlate uses a model of Positive Youth Development, encouraging youth in four areas—generosity, belonging, mastery, and independence. HomePlate is very much a community to our youth, a place of belonging. They are heartbreakingly generous within their community. I believe they’re touched to see how many “others” from the greater community contribute to help meet their needs—all year, including the Christmas Store.
Very often our youth are homeless and poor because they have no jobs—can’t find them, can’t get them, can’t keep them. Usually they can’t get housing if they’re unemployed.
I wonder if we can tap into that wonderful greater community generosity to find internships, mentorships, education, other ways for youth to earn their own way. Maybe some could earn “points” for shopping at Christmas by doing community service projects.
It’s exciting and gratifying to give gifts to these young folks for Christmas. My next dream is that we find ways to give more substantial gifts—our time, our knowledge, our patience, our encouragement, our faith in them. Can’t wait till next Christmas!
Contributed by Bernie Bosnjak, pastor, Hillsboro Friends