Helping America's most vulnerable®

One Kindness Changes Everything for a Homeless Teen

How one teen’s Christmas miracle inspired another’s life of service.

Bridget was a teen that wanted to give back and she’d just started volunteering at a Volunteers of America homeless youth shelter in Spokane, Washington when something happened that changed everything.

She recalls, “It’s that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when everyone is happy and families are feeling all ‘Cumbayá,’ warm and loving. And this tall, preppy-looking, blonde-haired girl walks in with her head down. She doesn’t look like the rest of the kids at the shelter—all angry and dark and mohawked. She’s the kind of girl you grew up next door to, you know?”

After a few minutes, Bridget and the girl piece her story together. She’s from California and her mom has kicked her out of the house because she has been cut from her high school basketball team. Mom has sent her to Spokane to live with her dad. The only problem is that mom didn’t even bother to call dad, and dad doesn’t want her. So here it is, just before Christmas, and this man dumps his daughter in front of a shelter in a city where she knows no one.

“And it isn’t that the new girl’s situation is worse than the other kids,” Bridget says, “In fact it’s nothing compared to some of the things I’ve seen so far. But as I watch her cling to the staff, I see how afraid she really is… and because she hasn’t learned how to put on a tough exterior to protect herself…I can see her for who and what she really is.”

Bridget watched as the shelter team was able to quickly advocate for this terrified girl. They help her reach out and work things out with her mom. When things are stable, they buy her a bus ticket back to California.

But the real Christmas miracle for Bridget, was seeing that this teen’s journey home really started because she saw someone cared. “The moment one of these frightened kids can see that someone cares about them—even a little—it gives them permission to care about themselves and that’s when things really change. That’s when they are able to rebuild their lives.”

Years later, that first holiday miracle lives on—it has inspired Bridget to pursue life and career of service as that same shelter’s Director of Youth Services. And it all started with reaching out one Christmas long ago.

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Next Chapter Mr. Hawkins’ Wish List, A Senior’s Holiday Miracle