I was first introduced to Hosea Youth Services in November of 2014 when my bible study group prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for the Drop In Center. I was immediately impressed with the family atmosphere that was created, the easy going interaction between kids and staff, and the genuine appreciation the kids expressed. I was instantly intrigued and knew I would be coming back.

Over the next several months our bible study group was providing dinner regularly and I began coming to the Drop In Center weekly to meet and get to know the youth that lived on the streets of Eugene. I’m not sure what I thought these kids would be like, but what I found was unexpected. One young girl went to my daughter’s old high school; another, my daughter used to play soccer with in middle school; a couple young men loved to cook and bake; one loved to knit and sell her wares; one had dreams of designing his own clothes; another wanted to be a paramedic when he grew up. I quickly realized these kids were no different than my own – they had a wide array of hobbies, interests, dreams, and aspirations but for various circumstances these kids found themselves out on the streets.

In John 13:34 Jesus says “Love one another as I have loved you.” God was placing these kids on my heart and I needed to step out in faith. Sure, doubts ran through my mind… “What does a 53 year old woman have in common with these kids?”… “Can I handle difficult situations I’ve never experienced before?” I wasn’t sure, but none of us are completely sure of anything until we try. So I drew comfort from Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” and jumped in!

I’m coming upon my third year with Hosea and this past year working with the Life Skills program has been a blessing and inspiring. In addition to spending more time with the kids,  learning their personal stories, and living life with them I’ve also had the opportunity to become a mentor. What began as a random assignment of two people has blossomed into friends. From our first coffee date to Sunday church and lunch dates, a year later God has been with us every step of the way. I’m beyond thankful for the work He has done in and through both of us! I’m thankful for our sweet friendship that brings a smile to my face. I’m continually impressed with how Gabby embraces every challenge despite her fears (she was recently appointed as the Youth Advocate for the City of Eugene’s Poverty and Homeless Board). I’m thankful for the way she’s shown me her ability to love other’s so abundantly and selflessly. Most importantly, I’m thankful that each of us didn’t let fear and doubt deprive us of the joy we’ve experienced together.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a mentor or getting involved with Hosea Youth Services I would highly encourage you to do it. All God asks of us is to make ourselves available to Him, He will do the rest, and I assure you it will be nothing short of amazing!

~Sheri, HYS Volunteer