This year we are hitting the milestone of the 15th Annual Homeless For A Night event in support of YESS! Of course there have been changes over the years: the event has changed venues, changed entertainment, staff has changed over—since it started, we have even changed our name! We have watched this event grow: we see new faces at the event year-after-year, hear new stories about what inspired new participants to give to YESS.
But some of the most amazing parts of Homeless For A Night are those that stay the same. Seeing familiar supporters every year who are so dedicated and so dear to us. Hearing the voices of people united for a common cause. Watching a community sleep outside so hundreds of youth don’t have to.
Of course, the experience of Homeless For A Night comes nowhere close to being on the streets. We would not want to create that experience for anyone. We would not want to shatter the bonds between people and their parents, ruin their childhoods. We would not want to take their education or their school experiences away from them. We would not want to make them watch their friends turn away from them. We would not want them to starve or turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of such profound loneliness.
Because that is what homelessness looks like. Those are the things that cannot be fixed just by placing a roof over someone’s head. Those things need more care: counselling, guidance, trust, love, hope. The things that YESS provides to youth who show up at our doors.
All we can do is invite people to step outside their comfort zones and imagine a life with far less luxury. And remind them over and over again to imagine a little more, teach them what homelessness means beyond not having a house or a bed to sleep in.
A lot has changed about Homeless For A Night over the years, but the experience has remained the same. Just one night talking about the harsh reality of youth homelessness among a group of like-minded people who want to make a difference can change the world. It certainly changes the lives of youth who come to YESS and find the programs and resources Homeless For A Night participants support.
These 15 years would not have been possible without you. To our participants—new, long-lasting, one-timers—to our sponsors throughout the years, to all the volunteers who make the event possible, to all the friends, family, coworkers, teammates of participants who have contributed through pledges…
You have given youth who have had the odds stacked against them for most of their lives a chance to change their stories. That is what we do and what Homeless For A Night is all about.
We invite you to #FighttheNight with us, to fight against youth homelessness, to be part of changing the stories of hundreds of young lives every year. You can find out more at HomelessForANight.YESS.org. Today is the last day to register if you want to participate in the 15th Annual Homeless For A Night!