God finds funny ways to work in our lives. Eight months ago, I stepped foot in the Drop-In for the first time. Feeling somewhat vulnerable and a touch awkward, I had no clue what God had in store for me in the coming months and I could not be more grateful for what was to come.

What I found in Hosea was it wasn’t the volunteers that made it special and it wasn’t the youth, either. It was the awesomely awkward and strangely perfect combination of the two that made it so amazing. I mean honestly, where else in the world would a 60-something retiree or a 26 year old aspiring physician get the chance to do life with our youth? It wouldn’t happen, because we are weird and our kids are cool…but that was the beauty of the Drop-In and the Life Skills classes.

I was thrust into a position that both my mentee and I knew was inherently uncomfortable. We had never even had a full conversation and we were supposed to be laying out plans for his return to LCC, work, etc. I mean come on Tauna, that seems a bit unreasonable. But, of course, Tauna was right and we hit it off. I was stoked and invested in him from that day forward. (Now when I say “hit it off,” I mean he returned my texts like 3 days after receiving them and he tolerated me sitting next to him in class, but that was enough for me.) Soon the text responses came every 2 days, every other day, and then believe it or not, instantly! We got to know each other as people, and now friends, and this would never have been possible without the Life Skills workshops. I’m so incredibly proud of how far he has come and how hard he has worked to land an awesome full-time job.

I tell this story because I know that each and every mentor in this program felt the same feelings and battled the same excuses to try to avoid this potentially difficult and uncomfortable situation. I also know that each and every mentor would not change the decision to become more involved. After Tauna asked me if I was available Thursday nights, I hesitated. As God listened to me create excuses in my head, he shot them down and pushed me to commit. Now, at the time, I thought this opportunity was for me to help better someone else’s life. I quickly realized I would be taking more away from this experience than all of our youth combined.

Our youth taught me how to be grateful for what we have, not bitter about what we don’t. They gave me joy each and every Thursday night. They let us be with them through their troubling times and celebrate with them in their triumphs. They inspired me to better myself, and those around me. But the most significant thing they taught me was how to be generous, even during times when you have little to give. A true legend gave me a great example of this. She said, “When I have two of something, I keep it in case the other breaks, but when they have two of something, they give it to their friend who has nothing.” Whether it is their time, money, or cigarettes, these kids are some of the most generous, fun-loving human beings I have been fortunate to do life with and I want to thank them for letting me into their world. As a new season in my life begins, and I temporarily part ways with Hosea, I will never forget the impact these young men and women had on my life. God sure is good.

~ Danny, HYS Mentor

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