Youth Action Hudson teens bring big-city lessons homeFor the fourth consecutive year, a group of Hudson teens has taken their January break to Chicago to learn a little about what life in a big city can be like.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
For the fourth consecutive year, a group of Hudson teens has taken their January break to Chicago to learn a little about what life in a big city can be like.
The trip is organized by Youth Action Hudson as a service trip, and 16 students made the trip along with YAH staff members and other adult volunteers.
The three-day service-learning trip included time working at a homeless shelter and helping older homeowners with some simple maintenance. New to this year’s trip was a supervised night walk through an area frequented by teens who are homeless or runaways.
John Oman, YAH youth director, said the walk was interesting to everybody on the trip. “I think we all kind of expected to be in some run-down area or a slum sort of place. But it wasn’t like that. But it is where kids gravitate to when they find themselves with nowhere else to go. Walking around there at night I think really gave our kids a feeling of what it must be like.”
Oman said the trip included lots of time to talk and reflect on what they saw. The group also has plans to take what they learned and find some way to make the experience relevant locally.
Some of the volunteers’ reflections on the experience appear here.
I think the Chicago trip changed me in many different ways. It definitely helped me to better understand what a homeless person would have to go through in one night. It is much harder than I expected it to be, especially if you were a teen, just for safety reasons. I also started to realize how lonely these people are and sometimes all they want is just a person to talk to. I think overall the Chicago trip is a great learning experience, and fun!
“I feel that through YAH, I have made many minor positive impacts on my community and others, but I do not feel that I have served to my full potential yet. I’ve learned that serving is not about recognition; it’s about what you actually do for others. Serving to me is a lifelong journey. It is not a quick achievement you make once.
I know that I will continue to serve in the future, no matter how big or how small of impacts I make — they are all important.
By volunteering through YAH I have learned that not everybody leads the same life and some are more fortunate than others. Especially being in Chicago has helped me look at life in a different way. I feel like I’m more open-minded and more respectful of people and their ideas.
The Youth Action Chicago trip has really helped me become more aware of what some people have to go through in life and how lucky and fortunate we all are because we have homes and supportive families where they don’t.
—Marisa Van Ness
I have really changed as a result of the (YAH) service work. I am much more grateful for what I have since I have gotten a chance to work closely with the homeless. Before I first came on these trips three years ago, I was a little afraid of the homeless. I thought they would all be mean and grumpy, and that they were just lazy and that they were homeless because of that. I’ve gotten a chance to talk to them and learn about how easy this can happen to someone.
I was absolutely terrified on my first service trip four years ago. But I sat down and started playing cards with a man named Tony. He was so nice and so funny, but he had been through a lot. I learned not to judge people because I don’t know their lives. Ever since, I’ve gone on all our service trips, as well as volunteered in and around Hudson. I realized through Community Action (YAH) that I want to spend the rest of my life helping people. I gained a really deep respect for human resiliency and for the value of every person. I also learned that compassion is the root of all relationships. I learned who I was through service.
By volunteering through YAH, I believe that I have become a better person. The trip to Chicago made me open my eyes to all of the less fortunate people around us. We don’t see homelessness in Hudson on a daily basis. It made me more appreciative of what I have and made me want to help others more.
In all my experiences with Community Action, one important thing I learned is how to be selfless. One of the most important things to do is to sacrifice something for the greater good, whether that be time, money, etc. The Chicago service trip has really taught me this.
I gained a lot of knowledge about how a lot of people have bigger obstacles in life than I do and that there is satisfaction in helping others in need.
To be honest, I am friends with a lot of people who have had tough lives. They teach me so much and I enjoy volunteering. I want to help because I know I am so fortunate. I do love helping. But sometimes I do feel like we’re not appreciated because some feel like we should be helping. But I do realize the majority are thankful, and I think that’s all the recognition I need.
I think the trip to Chicago is a good way to get started with doing community service and to get involved. I heard this trip was really fun and I’ve never really done a lot of community service so I was interested in going, and I’m pretty glad I did.
Community Action has changed my way of thinking. The Chicago trips have introduced me to a world of something I have not seen. The reality of being homeless scares me but I am amazed that people can survive. Serving and helping people is amazing especially when you see how happy they are that someone would come and help them or talk to them or even just be around them. Service projects are fun and make us feel good plus they make the other person so happy.
Service trips to Chicago have made me more aware of life outside Hudson. They have made me more grateful for what I have because some people don’t even have the basic necessities of life. Things such as the Night Walk and REST (homeless shelter and soup kitchen) made me think about and experience how difficult it would be to be homeless. On these trips I always start to think about how I should be doing more to help people who need it. I feel like it’s hard to help in places like Hudson because it is a very well-off community, but I still plan to try my best to help.