Most of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced homelessness. The youth in our shelter can’t say the same. Right now, as you read this, there are local teens who have no idea they’ll spend Christmas with us; that’s how quickly circumstances can change.
Christmas at home is a time for family traditions, gifts, gatherings, and festive foods. Understandably the youth in our care have complex and mixed emotions about spending the holiday season with us. We see an increase in fights, runaways, oppositional behavior, and youth generally acting out as they wrestle with these complex emotions. Imagine being away from your family during the time of year when families are in focus. Kids feel angry, frustrated, and hope that maybe their Christmas wishes will be granted, and they will reunite with their families in time to spend Christmas morning at home. Disappointment is a part of their holiday when those expectations aren’t met.
Temara Carthens, with Act Together, has spent her last two holiday seasons taking care of youth in our crisis care shelter. “It’s an emotional roller coaster for all of us, youth and staff,” she said. “We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy. Some are happy to be somewhere that cares and tries to provide a loving and positive experience. Some youth don’t care how much you give; they want to be at home with their family.”
“We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy.”
At Act Together, we take care of kids. We try and offer our youth fun holiday experiences and the opportunity to make new, positive memories. And, of course, wrapped presents for everyone. Christmas isn’t only about gifts, but all kids love presents on Christmas day. Ruben Marion has been working with Youth Focus for over a decade and spent his most memorable Christmas at Act Together. “One year, a 13-year-old boy received an art set. He shouted out; This is the best Christmas I ever had! It reminded me of how easy it is to make a lifetime memory, to give a gift that can help a child cope with what may seem like the worst time of their life.”
Act Together is fortunate to be a part of a community like Greensboro, who is so very supportive of our youth and program. Every year Greensboro opens their hearts and purses to let homeless, neglected, and pushed-out kids know it cares. Greensboro cares so much that even if a kid shows up on Christmas Eve or Day, there are presents for them too. We try and make everyone feel loved and have full bellies, big smiles, and grateful hearts.
We do our very best to make sure that when our youth have grown, the Christmas they spent with us isn’t their worst, and they leave with one or two fond memories. Thank you for supporting us and loving these kids as much as we do.