At Christmastime, and again for spring break, Trinity received word that students at Owatonna High School were in need.
There are 28 students at Owatonna High School who have been identified as homeless. Yes, I said 28. Which means that the actual number is probably closer to 40, as there is always a percentage who aren’t identified.
According to Nancy Williams, social worker at OHS, of the 28, eight would be “unaccompanied homeless.” That means that for 20 of the young people, it is their family who is without permanent shelter. Those eight would be couch-surfing at a friend’s house, sleeping in a car, or other options.
We’ve also heard that there are 21 young people at Owatonna Jr. High School who would qualify as “homeless.”
So at Christmas and spring break, we received a request for help. For may of these young people, the free/reduced lunch they receive at school is their only nutritional meal of the day. During school breaks, those meals are not available to them. So Trinity, through its Outreach Ministry Team, provided funds in the form of gift cards to neighborhood grocery stores, so that these young people would have access to food during the week.
After spring break, I received this thank you note from Nancy Williams:
“I thought it might be helpful to let you know where your generous donation of grocery gift cards went. (Please feel free to share with your congregation)
- 18 year old homeless student, currently living with 19 year old cousin
- 17 year old, couch surfs
- 18 year old, couch surfs
- 17 year old, currently living with aunt – this is temporary, hoping to get her own apartment when she turns 18 in a few months
- 17 year old, currently staying at a friend’s, not sure where he will be living next month
- 18 year old, just moved into the homeless shelter for men (Hospitality House)
- 16 year old, parents both disabled, she works 30 hours per week at a fast food restaurant, on verge of being evicted from trailer
- 17 year old, the rest of his family is doubled up with relatives, no room for him so he couch surfs
Each and every one of these kids were incredibly grateful and appreciative of the grocery cards to help them over the 10 days off school. Thank you so much.”
I’m just going to be blunt: It’s not ok that there are homeless young people in our community. And it is something that we can fix.
I’m writing this blog post to share two things with you:
- I want you to see the word of thanks from Nancy Williams in her note above. And then please add my thanks to that as well. It is because of you…because of your offerings…that we are able to provide this kind of support. Really, I am very grateful to you.
- This is an issue we are going to be talking more about in upcoming weeks. I really think that Trinity has the capacity and the will to do something about this problem. There is a growing need around the issue of homeless families in Steele County, and I am confident that we can provide support to those in need.
Watch for more information, coming soon. Jesus taught that, “…‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
There are homeless families and young people in Owatonna. That’s not ok. I believe that God is calling us to work to solve this.