I continue to be honored to lead the LMM Youth Resiliency Services (YRS) program, and am always thankful I get to witness acts of kindness that make our young people’s lives easier. Specifically, I’m pleased to tell you about a group dedicated to making radical hospitality a reality at the youth shelter.
St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (St. Luke’s), a congregation located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is carrying forward its ministry with a special project in partnership with YRS.
In February, members of the St. Luke’s Service Committee contacted our Development Department, to express interest in supporting teens receiving care at our Youth Emergency Shelter. LMM operates the only emergency shelter for youth ages 13 to 17 who are awaiting placement in the Foster Care system or seeking respite from housing instability.
The Service Committee had an idea to send LMM gift cards from various retailers, so that when a youth residing at the shelter was celebrating a birthday, or staying with us over a holiday, they would feel valued and seen by a demonstration of radical hospitality and acknowledgment of their special occasion.
It is such a simple, but very impactful concept. When a young person is with us over a holiday or on their birthday, we are helping them deal with unimaginable feelings of disappointment and abandonment. Something as simple as a birthday card or a gift card on Christmas can make a difference in their ability to process what they are feeling.
Service Committee members Pauline Ellis and Lori Heilmeier lead efforts to gather donations and gift cards from parishioners. Every couple months, Pauline and Lori mail the cards to LMM for distribution as needed to our youth shelter residents.
St. Luke’s is celebrating 75 years of ministry this year and the church has challenged the congregation to perform 75 acts of kindness during the anniversary. St. Luke’s hopes to brighten the birthday of 75 residents during their stay at LMM. Kindness can change the world one life at a time. We appreciate St. Luke’s reaching out to our little corner of the world.
–Lisa Smith, Vice President, Youth Resiliency Services
For more information about the Birthday Card Project or ways to support Youth Resiliency Services, please contact our Vice President of Development & Communications, Marcella Brown at 216-658-7208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.