“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices …” O Holy Night; English lyrics by John Sullivan Dwight, 1855
When a wine merchant in a small French town wrote a Christmas poem in 1847, he probably did not imagine that it would become a beloved carol sung in different languages all over the world. For Placide Cappeau (a part-time poet when he wasn’t working in the wine business), it was an opportunity to put words to the overwhelming emotions brought forth by the single sentence of Luke 2:7 “ And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” What Cappeau’s words (and Dwight’s translation) capture is the hope that verse inspires. It is not simply the birth of a child, but the birth of hope, that the poem and carol celebrate.
It is in that spirit that we are celebrating – we are thrilled to be celebrating – the results of our December “Thrill of Hope” Challenge. At the beginning of December, we launched the campaign with the hope of meeting a $275,000 challenge donation provided by two anonymous donors. We were overwhelmed by your outpouring of generosity: not only did we meet the match, we far exceeded it. In the month of December alone, 255 donors gave $352,899.12! When added to the challenge donation, that totals more than $627,000 to help the homeless youth of Indianapolis. We are tremendously grateful for your support.
How does your generosity translate into hope? By allowing us to build relationships with our youth – relationships that help our youth develop the attributes they need to create stable lives. At Outreach, we focus on helping our youth build five types of life strengths: Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, and Intellectual. We see these strengths as Building Blocks for establishing a foundation on which they can build a stable future. These strengths cannot be built up overnight; it takes time, patience, and direct, one-on-one involvement from caring volunteers and staff. Your donations make that happen. With the funds from the Thrill of Hope Challenge, we will be hiring a Volunteer Manager in the first quarter of 2018 who will recruit and train more volunteers. We will be able to add more Case Managers to work directly with our youth. Each new volunteer and staff member is another person to walk alongside our youth, guiding, directing, and supporting them, as they develop the attributes they need.
Mike Elliott, Outreach’s Director of Development explains why relationships are so important in working with homeless youth:
“Homelessness is a people issue, not a bricks and sticks issue. If you think about why YOU are not homeless, you probably would say it’s because you have a job, and you have a job because you got an education. But think about all of the people in your life who made that possible. Think about all of the people in your life who continue to make it possible for you to live a stable life. Most of us can name ten or twenty. Our youth often have only one or two, and even they may not be all that helpful. Our role at Outreach is to begin to fill those gaps and to help provide some of the guidance that our youth may have missed over the years.”
Our mission is to be the hands and feet of Christ, doing the work that He showed us how to do. To go back to the hymn, we try to live as Christ did: “In all our trials, born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger …” We know that we cannot help these young people without truly getting to know them and building their trust. A hot meal and a shower go a long way to helping a homeless young person feel better, but true life transformation happens only through relationships.
Perhaps when you made your donation to Outreach you did not realize the impact that it would make. Like Placide Cappeau, you may never know how far your effort will extend. You can be confident, however, that your generosity is being put to good use to build real hope in young people who desperately need it. Thank you for giving us the means to carry out Christ’s work.
“Truly he taught us to love one another. His law is love, and his gospel is peace.”