A couple of months ago, shortly after starting my new job at Urban Peak, I decided that I needed to spend a night out on the streets. At Urban Peak we serve youth experiencing homelessness, over 2500 a year. On any given night, there are 700+ youth calling the streets home in Denver.
It is 27 degrees as I write this and tonight it will be in the low teens.
I have never been homeless and wanted to get a very small glimpse into what our youth deal with every day.
I asked a co-worker of mine to join me. He works with out Education and Employment and also our street outreach. He said yes.
I didn't want to do it by myself.
We will start at 5pm and stay out until 8am. We will walk around the city, find something to eat, try to sleep, try to stay warm. Because Denver has a campaing ban we cannot openly sleep anywhere so will have to be creative around that.
Wherever you live, there are youth experiencing homelessness. It's a shame. And the folks who work at Urban Peak deal with the reality and brutality of homelessness every day.
I love that at Urban Peak we don't ask what's wrong with you. We ask what happened to you.
Drug abuse, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, alcoholism, extreme poverty, physical abuse, parent in jail, getting kicked out because of one's sexual orientation, and the list goes on and on.
The streets become a safer place for them.
Urban Peak is usually a youth's last resort. The last thing they want to do is trust another adult.
Yet they come in. They grab breakfast at our drop in center. They may confide in one of our employees. They can do laundry and take a shower. They can seek overnight safety in our shelter.
And that is just the start of what we provide. And we have been doing this for 25 years.
I wanted to let all of my friends and fundraising peers know what I am doing tonight. I would love it if you shared this so we can get more and more people thinking about youth who experience homelessness. A national number around this is 1 million every year. Can you imagine?
I will write about my experiences. Meanwhile, please think about youth experiencing homelessness. If you are in a position to donate, a small donation goes a long way at any agency that serves youth experiencing homelessness.
Thank you for reading!