While I've only been volunteering with the Doors of Change program for about a month, it has already been such an honor and a pleasure to be involved. These homeless youth have many needs. But for me, volunteering with the youth is so much more than meeting a practical need. It's more than about confronting poverty, inequality, substance abuse and mental illness. It's more than doing acts of service out of mere obedience to God. For me it's about allowing myself to be opened to the love of Christ, which knows no boundaries. It's about meeting a real person and allowing myself to be changed by that meeting. It's sitting down, sharing a meal and conversing about art and movies and family and travel, and then finding out we actually have more in common than we thought. And suddenly I care a bit more about the person in front of me. It's easy to feel the differences between us when I'm in my car and they're on the street holding a sign, but when we're sitting at a table together and both trying to figure out how to make a necklace out of wire, those differences start to fade into the background. Even if only for that hour.
Practically speaking, the work we do for the program is not difficult, and it's fun to connect with other volunteers as we prep dinner, make sandwiches, pack lunches, or sort toiletries to hand out later. There's plenty to do but it's pretty relaxed as well. The toughest thing is probably breaking through your comfort zone to sit next to someone you don't know and who seems really different from you and try to make conversation. I admit it's not easy but I challenge you to join this dance and invite you to meet Christ in the faces of these kids. You will walk away blessed.