As Empower Youth grows, the balance between the mission and the work to keep the mission in front and going sometimes pull myself and our board a million directions. Each one of us– after two years of growing from 25 bags to 385 bags a weekend, from helping in one school system to helping in 4 school systems, and adding countless miles to our cars and minutes to our data plans—are all volunteers.
With that being said, there seems to be much to keep me up at night. But lately, it hasn’t been the fundraising. I wanted to share a little story with you. Over the weekend, a young boy of barely 12 years old contacted me. He was given Empower Youth information and specifically my name and phone number. He texted me back and forth over the weekend asking for help. He explained his situation as living in an extended stay hotel with his little brother and his single Mom who cleaned rooms there. He had been given my card by another housekeeper who was worried about him. To add angst to this entire situation, he really wanted to protect his Mom and make sure that I could help them and not separate them. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of times over the weekend as well. He really is a very mature young man. Always thanking me for helping him…very polite.
Yesterday, I visited him in the lobby of his hotel and dropped off school supplies. He has been out of school for almost 15 days (according to him). He’s starting back on Wednesday. I never saw his Mom. I wanted to establish a trust relationship with the young man and honestly, I’m not crazy. In today’s world, I would never meet with any child without an adult present so the lobby with the managers at the desk was the best bet.
As time plays out, I am hoping to help this young family get back on their feet. I’ve been blessed with friendships through the SafetyNet of Clermont County that I think will help them. Helping them is not what’s keeping me up at night… I can’t sleep because my heart breaks that his resource base is a name on a business card. My heart breaks because whether he’s legit or running a scam, I wonder if he’s texting anyone else. My heart breaks because there’s a 12 year old who is taking the lead role in his family. He’s the one asking for help with applying for housing. He’s the one asking for school supplies. He’s the one… it’s just him…
My heart breaks because he’s not the only 12 year old running a household…
Empower Youth is a lot of things… but right now it is gut-wrenching.
If you can’t sleep, maybe you need to be more active with us in the fight to give youth a future. Donate or volunteer today.