I have been wanting to write a post about this for some time.
Then this morning I saw an encounter between one of the youth we serve and one of our staff.
We serve youth experiencing homelessness and youth on the verge of becoming homeless. 98% of the youth we serve have experienced some type of trauma. Many of them feel safer on the streets than they did at home.
In my short time here I have met some amazing youth.
And the work our staff does is not always pretty. I hear the "F" word often, and when a traumatized young person is trying to express what they need it does not look like a scene from the "Sound of Music".
Having given hundreds of tours here, I realize that what happens here does not always leave a good taste in someone's mouth. Our work is vital. Our staff change lives every day. I would even say that they save lives every day. They give hope to someone who has none. They give a voice to someone whose voice was stolen from them with brutal violence.
This is the reality of our mission.
And I try to talk about it with donors just as much as possible. I also spend a lot of time bringing donors here to see for themselves the amazing work our staff does.
As fundraisers it's vital that we tell stories. I believe that it is also vital that we tell a variety of stories. Not just the "Sound of Music" stories but the brutal, raw, reality-based stories that are so ingrained to our work.
Homelessness is not pretty. Nor is sexual trafficking, rape, drug abuse, alcoholism, prostitution, physical abuse and many other horrible things that happen to youth you are experiencing homelessness. These are important parts of our stories because they show the "why".
Success comes in many forms. The obvious ones would look like a youth entering our shelter, moving into their first apartment, celebrating a few weeks clean. The not so obvious ones look like a youth walking into our drop-in center for the first time, a youth looking at a staff member directly in the eyes, a youth breaking down.
Don't be afraid to share your mission, to share the stories of what really happens at your non-profit. You might be surprised in the affect it has on those who support you.
Thank you for reading.