Concerts for Homeless Youth

As I mentioned in a previous post, aside from working at Artifact, I'm in a band that puts on shows for homeless youth in the Minneapolis metro area. Last night was the first show in several weeks for us, as we spent much of that time coordinating efforts with other youth services, putting together and distributing homeless care kits, and volunteering our time doing one-off service projects.

My friend Jeromy volunteers frequently at this particular youth home and teaches a song-writing class, which is so essential because it's quite possibly the most cathartic way of coping with difficulties in life. It's the reason I got into music. This night was special because his song-writing class had the opportunity to perform the song they'd written in front of us and the other kids. They had the opportunity to dress up like us and wear face paint like we do and be part of the band, part of a community, for a night. The overarching message is it's okay if society views you as a misfit or a loser, and you shouldn't let the opinions of others define who you are as a person or what you can accomplish. We talk about respecting others, respecting yourself and the value of working hard.

At the end a few of the kids came up to take a turn playing my guitar. It looks weird and it has a tremolo bar which is a lot of fun to play with.

It takes me a long time to decompress from these shows. It's a blessing for sure to be able to bring these kids a little entertainment and encouragement and peace from the normal chaos of their everyday lives. At the same time, every time I leave I wish I could do so much more. I wish I could take at least a few of these kids with me to raise in a nurturing and safe environment. After the set is over and the kids are all gone, the chaplain there sticks around and talks to us and shares stories about what some of the kids are going through. It's absolutely heartbreaking. A lot of the kids self-harm. Most of the kids are dealing with extreme psychological trauma. All of the kids there are there because either their family didn't want them, are incarcerated, or the environment they grew up in was simply not safe.

One of the kids in the song-writing class has an acoustic guitar that needs attention, and I'm thinking that will be the next one I fix up on a day off

If you're in the Minneapolis area and intrigued at how you could get involved in what we're doing, send an e-mail to Jeromy or Dirk

Gilman out.

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