Joys and sorrows
8/3/2018 | Gigi Nicholas
Last month, we wrote about “Celebrating Accomplishments and Making Memories” at the graduation celebration for our high school students in the Outreach G.O.A.L. program.
Sadly, just days after releasing that article in our monthly newsletter, we learned the tragic news that one of those graduates, Trevon Bonds, was shot and killed in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, for youth without a stable living situation, life often is that unpredictable. One day may be filled with joy and promise, and the next may be scarred by death and violence. All of us here at Outreach feel the pain of losing Trevon. We recognized his potential, we enjoyed his smile, and we had great hopes for his future. Now, we trust that he has a home with God, held safe from violence and want. We pray for his family and friends.
Being surrounded by violence and fear, it would be easy for a young person to lose hope in the future. At Outreach, we strive to help our youth move beyond despair and to build hope. One of the ways we do so is to provide the opportunity for positive and life-affirming activities. A few weeks after Trevon’s death, our G.O.A.L. case managers took our students on a two-day camping trip to Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio. For most, it was the first time they had ever been camping and the first time they’d ever experienced being surrounded by the beauty of nature. While it was a chance for fun and relaxation, it also was an opportunity to deal with moving on into the next phases of their lives.
G.O.A.L. Case Manager, Jenna Shaffer, shared these photos and stories:
We started at Ash Cave, then hiked a half mile and arrived at the gorge. There was a waterfall that a few students thought would be fun to stand (and dance) under!
We cooked over the fire for dinner, making ground beef with veggies, and a lot of the students got creative and turned them into nachos.
In my opinion, the highlight of the two days was Tuesday night. Kyle, Daniel and I each gave a little encouragement about what we see in the students and how proud we are of them. Since we stop working with this group July 31st, we wanted to talk to them about letting go of past hurts, bad habits, abuse, addictions, or anything holding them back from becoming who they're meant to be. We then had them write down those burdens on floating lanterns so they could physically let them go. We asked if any of them wanted to share, and it turned out every single one did! So, after they shared, we lit their lantern, and they watched them float away. God gave us quite the show with some shooting stars and tons of galaxies. One of the girls kept crying every time she looked up because she said she never knew there were so many stars, and it gave her so much peace!
The next morning, we cooked biscuits and gravy, eggs, potatoes and bacon for breakfast and had way too much leftover!
Our last stop was Cedar Falls, and then we hit the road back to Indy.
One of the students informed us he’s going to retire to the woods…I felt this picture demonstrated that appropriately!
And every successful camping trip ends with everyone passed out for hours!
Our youth face fear, loss, and need every day. With your help, we are able to provide them with opportunities such as this camping trip, where they can experience joy, love, and hope as well. Thank you for supporting our efforts.