“25 years ago this spring I checked into the Men’s Shelter in Spokane, Washington, as a homeless meth addict. All that journey started when I was about 8 years old – that led to drugs, that led to more severe things in my life. So it’s such an honor to be back in this city working with kids who are headed in the same direction.” – Ryan Brown, Youth Outreach director
UGM Youth Outreach partners with local schools, churches, colleges and universities, and community groups to reach children and young adults with the love of Jesus Christ.
Reaching children is key to breaking the generational cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction that feed homelessness. Being raised in unstable or broken homes is a common denominator among the vast majority of adults who end up in UGM shelters. And in Spokane County alone, a recent study found, 3,000 children in grades K-12 are homeless.
UGM Camp is a 125-acre camp along the Spokane River just a one-hour drive away from the city. Every summer, about 500 kids from low-income neighborhoods come to spend a week at camp under the direction of a team of volunteers from a church in their neighborhood. Thanks to the generous groups and individuals who provide camp sponsorships, it doesn’t cost their families a penny.
“It is really fun and it’s free and we get to learn about God. And it’s a good place to be when you need a break from your house. And the counselors are awesome.” – Note from a camper
In programs tailored to different age groups, Youth Outreach connects with local schools to reach students who might otherwise slip through the cracks. After-school programs and family-style activities help at-risk youth feel like they belong and are valuable. College students and other volunteers show God’s love and provide positive examples that help kids with troubled backgrounds aspire for a better future than they thought was possible.
“But for the grace of God, it could be me or one of my children locked up in there. I am more convinced than I ever have been, that the only hope for these kids, and the only hope for this world is Jesus Christ.” – Jerry McGlade, Juvenile Detention volunteer
“I love ministering to kids because they have their whole lives ahead of them and if we get them now, where they are, we’re going to see some awesome things happen through them. I don’t want their potential to be wasted; I want them to know they are valued and God sees them as worth it.” – Adam, Student Impact Team
Maintaining clothing closets at high schools in low-income neighborhoods creates opportunity to encourage students by providing for their practical needs. Being able to dress appropriately is one step toward being able to set goals for their future.
“If you feel dirty and you look in disarray, you’re not going to want to push yourself, versus if you’re wearing something nice and you feel confident in, you’re going to be more willing to pursue higher goals.” – Christa, Student Impact Team, helps run the clothing closet at Rogers High School
“Right there is the picture of hope. Because right there is a picture of young leaders transforming this world.” – Ryan Brown, Youth Outreach director
Started in 2015, Student Impact is a group of students from local colleges and universities who are answering God’s call to serve their neighbors in need. Members of the team serve through camp, after-school programs, mentoring, Juvenile Detention ministry and the Student Impact Center. These young adults bring energy, ideas, hearts of service, and great hope for the future.
“I have built a lot of wonderful relationships here and have gotten to interact with a large variety of people. I have also gained valuable experience in leadership, empathy, responsibility, fellowship, and conflict management. More than anything, I think that my time at UGM has made me more passionate about long-term ministry.” – Meredith McFall, Resident Intern