These days, millennials get a bad rap. They’re called lazy, selfish, rude.
But when it comes to the millennials on the UGM Student Impact Team, these descriptors are far from true. Better words to describe them would be compassionate, insightful, and passionate.
After coming to Spokane to go to Moody Bible Institute, Christa quickly recognized a need and wanted to get involved helping the homeless, specifically youth.
“Realizing that a quarter of [Spokane’s homeless] are under the age of 18…I was talking to kids my age or younger and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been on my own for 4 years.’ You just don’t think about that…Just talking to students and realizing, I’ve seen your potential future and I want you to avoid getting there. You can be so much more.”
Part of the goal of the Student Impact Team is to catch kids before they fall into the generational cycle of poverty, homelessness, addiction, even illiteracy.
Christa empowers kids through mentoring and running the clothing closet at Rogers High School.
“The girl I’m mentoring right now, she’s a junior, and she’s really wanting to graduate high school, and if she does, she will be the first one out of her whole family and extended family whose graduated high school. So it’s cool to encourage her and be like, ‘Yeah, you can get out of this.’”
Christa believes even something as seemingly insignificant as clothing can empower kids to reach their potential and look beyond what they may see around them.
“If you feel dirty and you look in disarray, you’re not going to want to push yourself, versus if you’re wearing something nice and you feel confident in, you’re going to be more willing to pursue higher goals. It sounds weird like, ‘No, that doesn’t matter,’ but it really does.”
“Like they will have an interview and picking out an interview outfit for them it’s like, I want to get you something that you’re going to feel confident and put together in so you can move forward with your life. Or prom, one girl got a prom dress; it’s really special moments of like telling her, ‘You look absolutely beautiful in this.’ It’s so powerful, meeting a basic need and then how much comes from that.”
Ultimately, Christa feels the clothing closet shows kids there are people who care about them, and knowing people care makes an impact on youth.
“I feel like the clothing closet is an extension of mentoring because we usually just end up hanging out with the kids. And they keep coming back and it can get to a point where it’s like, okay, you don’t need any more clothes, but you just want to be here.
“You just pick up on stuff that’s happening around school. It makes it so much more personal. I have their names in my phone so when they need something, I have their name and I can go and say ‘I found these specifically for you.’
“One girl asked me, ‘Do you guys get paid?’ and I was like ‘No, we just want to hang out with you guys!’ It’s cool how much care speaks.”
Interestingly, Christa expresses that the Student Impact Team is pushing her to reach her potential, as well, as a leader. She feels the freedom to dream and shape her own ministry.
“There’s so much trust and support. Ryan (UGM Youth Outreach Director) trusts us to be leaders and then supports us and gives us whatever we need to achieve that and be successful in our ministry.”
Christa is one of 50 students on Student Impact serving the poor and homeless in our community and learning to lead. Watch for the next blog about Adam who has a similar passion for helping kids see their potential and for leadership.
UGM Camp also encourages kids to see beyond their everyday circumstances. Give a child a week at camp and impact a life.