Nov 10, 2018

Clients join volunteers in fellowship

Clients join volunteers in fellowship
After “Investment Saturday,“ we have a sit-down family meal, with our homeless young adults and volunteers joining in. It is really fun to watch the community come together in fellowship.

Nov 9, 2018

...'toward love and good deeds'!

...'toward love and good deeds'!
Lots of UT students helped out one recent Saturday morning in our “Chopped!” event. These are from a student club called Humanity First. This event is very popular among groups that volunteer with us. To schedule your group, click below:
Interested in volunteering? Click here!

Nov 6, 2018

Success Story - Jacob

One street youth's journey: from client to missionary
It was the kind of simple, one-on-one conversation I pray for – the missionary and the homeless, aimless wanderer. A message of forgiveness and hope through Jesus Christ vs. a cacophony of swirling alternatives: Hinduism, Buddhism …Satanism?

We rarely learn how these conversations turn out, but this time we did.The answer came in a Facebook post:

“My name is Jacob. I'm 25 years old now. About four years ago I was homeless in Austin, Texas, and I used to come around your organization. I am working towards my own street-based ministry here in Asheville, N.C. I'm hoping that we can somehow network and bring the vision that Christ has given to us, and watch it grow all over America.

“My testimony is very powerful, and now I am giving up all that has held me back from God. I hear His voice more clearly every day, and today He has me contacting you. I am looking forward to just listening to your wisdom about where to start, to build a stronger foundation that somebody can look upon, agree upon, and hopefully support.

“I believe that a lot of what I do will also benefit you, because I believe in what you do. I believe in Christ Almighty and the Father that has sent Him."

I replied that I remembered Jacob and had a photo of him sitting on the tailgate of my pickup, playing his guitar. He responded:
 “I also remember a time when we sat together talking about spirituality and you were so sold on Christ Our God, and I could not commit to anything. I thought, is it Krishna, is it Hindu, is it Buddhism, is it Satanism? Should I live evil? Is everything just turned around to trick me? I felt so confused.

“I understand now. I knew you had the eternal wisdom but, sleeping on the streets with all of these people in other beliefs and religions, I couldn't commit my life to one thing. Now it is a different story.I am again so GRATEFUL to finally know the truth. God opened my heart and let me live as one in peace of the greater vision that is Christ Almighty.”

My conversation with Jacob is where the many Street Youth Ministry “events” – the meals, clothing closet, cold-weather gear distribution, Movie Night, Turkey Grab, computer time, peer counseling, etc. – are designed to lead.

We see 500 homeless young adults per year. That's 5,000 in the 10 years we're operated. Wow! We know that one in 10 young adults in the United States experiences homelessness at some time between ages 18 and 25. That’s hard to believe, but it's a recent statistic and one we think is accurate.

We cannot reach them all, but they all deserve people in their lives who care. We are looking for our proven methods to be replicated and/or improved upon all over the country. We plan on taking our ministry model to San Antonio this January, but we know our clients can carry the gospel to more locations and people than we ever will reach.

We look forward to hearing from more and more "Jacobs" in the future. It's already a small handful. We can't wait!

Oct 12, 2018

A day in the life of Street Youth Ministry

184+ individuals!
Did you know that’s how many people are involved with Street Youth Ministry every day? We didn’t, so we looked at our numbers and came up with an average. It's an amazing thing to behold, and we and our clients are blessed beyond hopes.
Who could have imagined such a thing ten years ago? With God's continued blessing and the help of thousands of people, we will continue to help more homeless young adults with our proven techniques and strategy. Each semester, we try new things, hone our skills and open doors wider for our clients to discover who — and whose — they are!

'If it weren't for SYM, I'd be lost!'

'If it weren't for SYM, 
I'd be lost!'

Taylor's story resembled those of so many SYM clients. After aging out of foster homes, she joined a carnival, became hooked on drugs and eventually became homeless, ultimately finding her way to SYM and hope! Last month, she mentioned us on Facebook and created a fund-raiser.
Facebook post: July 3, 2018
Title: It's a hard transition process -- Thanks for the support

"Most of you know my story. All I have to say now is that it takes a while for someone to transition from homeless to housed. I’m experiencing this now.

"I didn’t think it would be hard, I post like I’m doing great, but I’m learning how to save money, how to pay my rent, how to do everything I should already know. So if it’s taking me a while to meet up with you, or go out to lunch, I’m sorry. But this is hard for me. I’m in the transition process.

"If it weren’t for The Street Youth Ministry, Lifeworks, or LINC Austin I would be lost. Thank you all for helping me!!!" 
Why this matters ...
Changes like what Taylor is experiencing don't happen overnight. This prayer team has prayed for her more than 100 times. We are overjoyed at the changes she has been making and pray that her plans continue to grow. This is what YOU help do at SYM!

Is Reconciliation Worth It?

We are proud that we have a safe place and that we have trust, but I am most proud that we reconcile with almost everyone! -- Terry
Recalling a time when
an angry confrontation
turned to reconciliation
We sat face-to-face in an uncomfortable silence. Robert was not responding to me as he stared at his phone. We were going to have a falling out for sure.
In our Drop-in Center, safety is our number one requirement, as it creates the foundation on which we build trust. We provide many physical relief items: food, drink, clothing, toiletries, self-care aids, etc. Those are important, to be sure, but the very moment safety comes into question, nothing else matters. Many of our clients will flash back to times -- perhaps recent times -- when safety was in peril. Those moments are never good.
We don't have a lot of rules, but NO SMOKING is one of them. Vaping isn't new, and it's never been a problem, but for some reason we recently had clients who, unlike past occasional vapers, left huge clouds of smoke behind. It raised concerns among staff and other clients, so we banned vaping as we did all smoking. Unfortunately, the decision wasn't popular.
One client couldn't follow the rule, so I had to ask him to leave. A heated exchange escalated as other clients joined in, including Robert. Eventually, everyone else left, leaving Robert and me sitting face-to-face, and it was obvious he wasn’t moving or talking.
I began to reevaluate. I recognized what I believed were signs of PTSD. I backed off and waited, but I didn't disengage. Finally, Robert warned me: “I'm going to explode, and that won't be good for you." I responded with, "You can explode if you need to. I'm here and not going anywhere." After some time, he was finally able to stand up and leave the center. He didn’t say anything more, but his body language told me he was very angry.
We are in the business of reconciliation. It’s not unusual for someone to be angry with me, but when the anger lingers, it’s a hindrance to ministry. We seek reconciliation. We seek healing. We seek to be better than before.
Robert returned the next day and asked to talk. He apologized. I apologized for letting things get more personal and directed at him more than necessary. We talked about his PTSD and his coping mechanisms. The incident and its reconciliation changed him from someone who was shy and rarely shared to someone who is much more engaged.
This incident isn't unique. Holding people accountable, sharing difficult news, standing up to a bully who doesn't like your view -- none of this is popular, but it’s the stuff real relationships are made of.
While we offer relief, we are in a ministry of offering hope and long-term relationships to young adults who often have never had such relationships with reliable adults. It's not easy. Healing and restoration occur in the ebb and flow of these relationships. We are proud that we have a safe place and that we have trust, but I am most proud that we reconcile with almost everyone. Of the 5,000 people we have served in the past 10 years, only two have yet to reconcile with us – and we continue to reach out to both as often as we can.
One day we believe it will happen. And God's goodness will flow into that breach, and wonderful results will follow!

Terry Cole

Oct 4, 2018

Leadership Formation Intern

Introducing: Tondra!

Our internship for entrepreneurs is reserved for former clients who have become stable but wish to be mentored by SYM staff. We are delighted to welcome Tondra Daily as our fall intern! She is going to scholl and starting her own business. Tondra is a Christ follower and animal lover.

You can email her at:

Oct 3, 2018

UT business majors pitch in!

UT business majors pitch in!
These UT students came together recenly to serve at SYM. They are business majors, and It is their goal to help homeless neighbors in Austin find jobs. Here, they are preparing a meal together for our sit-down Saturday client family dinner. Volunteers are welcome for both the cooking event and to lead an hour of discussion with clients on any particular topic before the meal at 11:30 a.m.

Sep 22, 2018

Street Youth Ministry turns 10!

Street Youth Ministry turns 10!
Last month marked our 10th anniversary as a ministry. SYM was founded in August 2008 after Terry had worked with homeless youth as a volunteer for five years.

We have served approximately 5,000 individuals in that time and have been blessed beyond measure by them.

God is doing wonderful things in our midst, bringing increased stability, sobriety, reconnection, and new community to many!

Aug 22, 2018

Salesforce News - Growth is a Good Word for Small Nonprofits

Growth is a Good Word for Small Nonprofits

Grow your impact with better nonprofit technology
Some funders, constituents, and nonprofit staff think of growth as prioritizing “money over mission,” viewing it from a traditional corporate focus on just revenue growth, excessive spend, or increase in size. This definition can lead people to scrutinize nonprofit investment in marketing, talent, operations, technology, and other overhead areas that are actually necessary to support a healthy and sustainable model for change. This is also known as the “overhead myth.”

We all know nonprofits today face ever-changing needs from their constituents who are at the heart of their mission, which require agility to stay relevant. People are adopting modern technologies and spending their time in new digital spaces. Nonprofits are constantly responding to opportunities, threats, and changes, and yet they are limited in their ability to respond if they cannot grow and evolve in many different ways.
Growth might mean scaling your capacity to keep up with demand. Marketing your cause to create a social movement. Replicating your model to help another zip code. Securing that grant to cure a disease. There are a million ways to grow for good.
This is why for many nonprofit professionals, “growth” has taken on a more positive meaning, evolving past revenue into all parts of your mission. They focus on balanced growth so that strategic marketing efforts can be turned into efficient program participation, effective fundraising, and sustainable impact. All without bottlenecks, waste, or frivolous spending.
For this blog we asked a few small nonprofit professionals, “What does growth mean to you?” Here are their answers. To learn more, visit our new Growing Nonprofit webpage with content for small and developing nonprofits.

Growth in Scalable Technology (& Fundraising)

Terry Cole, Executive Director, Street Youth Ministry of Austin
“Small is wonderful. You can keep focused on goals, and keep staff well informed on that direction. But, being a smaller nonprofit is also challenging because you have high overhead and initial expense in technology, insurance, and other things. We started focused on fundraising and now have full visibility into where are income comes from, and where we should grow it next. With Salesforce’s donation of cloud-based technology, you can get start growing your capacity in one area, and move to the next when you are ready.”
Since 2008, Street Youth Ministry of Austin (SYM) has been helping homeless or street-dependent youth identify their needs and connect them to local communities and partners. Using the Nonprofit Success Pack they are able to launch fundraising campaigns to target any segment of their donors, then track the results with real-time analytics, all as a small organization and IT team of one.
“Growth is always painful as we grow from adhoc to procedural, small to scaled. You have to find the right people and figure out how to divide and redivide the job duties, and give them a consistent way of working. Because we invested in Salesforce, we have limited churn on tools and methods. We started with with donor management, then newsletters, then volunteers, then clients participation and impact, operations scheduling, then cases for non-client constituents. You have to start somewhere.”
With limited time, Terry still finds time to answer countless questions on the Power of Us Hub. Learn more about SYM or follow Terry’s blog
Viewing growth as greedy or “against the grain” of nonprofit models will only hold us back from achieving our Mission’s promise. With a solid reason for where and why you should grow, and a balanced approach to sustainably increase your impact, growth is a good word. In today’s ever changing world if your organization doesn’t evolve, another more nimble organization will, or there will be missed opportunities for impact. Find your next project, plant a seed, use technology to grow effectively, and see where it takes you.