Youth for Hope
Hope Haven Gospel Mission is much more then a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Our success depends a great deal on the community in which we reside. Providing a clean and warm place to sleep and both spiritual and physical food requires the participation of many people throughout the Lewiston/Auburn area. Without the willingness of those who provide the funds we use to pay the bills, we couldn’t exist, and those without a place to lay their heads would be sleeping on the streets. So, we thank all those who make our work possible.
In our effort to show how much we appreciate the community involvement we receive, we are building programs that give back to the community in ways that help people improve their chances for a brighter future. One such program is the “Youth For Hope” program. Through this program, kids whose ages range from 10 to 18, weather troubled or not, can experience the shelter side of homelessness.
This program, which was put in place by Alberto Gonzalez, the shelter volunteer supervisor, in coordination with the participating schools, brings kids into the shelter for a day of work or whatever number of hours the school specifies. They get to see the dormitories the men and women sleep in and the dining room where they eat. They are introduced to the process by which the homeless are signed in and assigned beds. And lastly they hear from Alberto himself about the life that drugs and alcohol can be responsible for as Alberto spent 22 years in prison for his drug use. Alberto is so concerned that kids today are heading down the same path that he took that he started this program to teach the young of our society the lessons he learned the hard way. Alberto says over and over “don’t do drugs, stay in school” while reflecting on his own past.
This program is aimed at school aged children and is designed to get kids involved in helping those less fortunate themselves by cleaning floors, stairs and bathrooms throughout the mission. They are closely supervised by Alberto and the staff of Hope Haven. Also required is the presence of the children’s parents, who can take pictures of the activities while the children work. Upon completion of the required time, the kids receive a letter documenting their hours and experience.
So far 6 kids have entered the program with 3 completing it, the other 3 are still doing their required work. We all pray this program will be a success and better prepare the children of today for the world of tomorrow, when they will take their place as responsible citizens of Lewiston and Auburn.