On Thursday, July 21, 2016, thrive United Methodist Church
received the Volunteer Impact Award at the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers' 2016 Youth Achievement Tea. Rev. Jennifer Hibben, co-pastor accepted the award on behalf of the church.
Iowa Homeless Youth Centers
(IHYC) offers a variety of programs and facilities that teach homeless youth, ages 16-25, to live independently and become self-sufficient. The youth they serve are non-system involved, meaning that they are not placed or directly supported by a governmental payment agency. IHYC is often the last resort for older runaway and homeless youth who have exhausted community resources, family, and friends.
This year was IHYC's third annual tea that recognizes their community partners and volunteers, but the most notable awards are the Youth Achievement Awards. Five outstanding youth received these awards and spoke about how far they have come because of the assistance from Iowa Homeless Youth Center's programs.
These young adults have overcome homelessness, abuse, teen pregnancy, and poverty by the support given through transitional living, aftercare services, pre- and post-natal care and education and employment programs.
"Because what our faith teaches us in part, is that things aren't always as they seem, that often our expectations are too small and that what God is able to do is more and better than what we can imagine," said Rev. Hibben. "What we may not have expected, is what many of you who volunteer already know, is that the real outcome is that we were changed."
Rev. Hibben said that volunteers from thrive have spent over 200 hours at IHYC and had been changed by the relationships they build and the stories they hear. They learn about the problem of homelessness in Iowa and realize how deeply connect to each other they are, and when they hoped to change others lives, their lives change, too.
"Our prayer," Rev. Hibben concluded, "is that we can be a small piece of the puzzle of ending youth homelessness in Iowa, and we thank you for that opportunity."