Dec 27, 2016

End of Year Blowout

4 ways you can support us!

Help us break even for 2016!We need only $10,000 more to reach our year-end giving goal!

Pray for one specific client every three to four weeks.

Top Ten Highlights of 2016

1. 'Second Chance' Prom

We team up with LifeWorks to offer a Second Chance Prom each year to all our clients. This is so inspirational for them! They get dressed up, pose for portraits taken by a professional photographer (as above), are treated like prom royalty, and walk taller and prouder for weeks afterwards. Your assistance is pivotal!

'He's everywhere, all the time...'
“You don't really find him -- Terry has a way of finding you. We move around, but no matter where we go Terry finds us and talks to us. He is just this guy walking his dog, like you would see anyone, but then he stops and talks to you and tells you there are ways to get off the street. Even if you don't believe him at first, he is everywhere, all the time, so you can't help but wonder what’s up.”
-- Client, as told to a volunteer

2. A Christmas to celebrate!

Our end-of-year celebration of Christmas was fabulous. Forty-one clients and 30 volunteers -- including the happy kitchen crew above -- gathered to celebrate the coming of Jesus. We were hosted by the Daughters of the King from All Saints Episcopal Church. We celebrated a lot of amazing accomplishments by our clients, including moving into apartments, having healthy babies, getting jobs, being sober, going to college and more!

'... a labor of love and faith ...'

“We have been involved with Street Youth Ministry for several years, making sandwiches, and clothing donations and have been watching the dedication that Terry Cole has for the street youth. We get regular newsletters and emails and prayer requests that are evidence of the great labor of love and faith that defines this organization.”
-- Posted on

3. A safer arrival for babies!

Deon, above, holds one of our newest SYM clients. Her mother got off the street quickly once she learned she was pregnant. When we became aware of high miscarriage and infant death rates among our pregnant clients, we focused on the problem. We raised awareness. We asked them to count the number of months they spent on the street, and work to reduce that number. Several of our clients moved back home, got jobs, and found prenatal care. When their babies arrived, there was room and love for them!

'Giving ... an easy way to help'
“Giving financially to SYM is an easy way to help, since I am not close enough to volunteer. They help these youths go to college with textbook scholarships, celebrate accomplishments like staying off alcohol and drugs. I am impressed with SYM, its volunteers and the street youth themselves for what they are doing.”
-- A donor, posted on-line at

4. Matt and Jared, Super interns
We were blessed to have two summer interns this year! Jared Dale and Matthew Powell were our high school interns. They learned to interact safely with clients, operate our many events, and master the fine art of logistics!
Read about our internships and pass the word to mature high school juniors. Our weekly stipend is not a lot, but it's enough to keep one from needing a second job.  

5. LifeWorks/SYM Halloween Party
This year, LifeWorks, SYM and University Presbyterian Church combined forces to throw an awesome Halloween party for our clients, complete with costumes, face painting, treats, grilled burgers and hot dogs, and a raffle. We were joined by UT student athletes from many sports. They painted faces, played Jenga and other games, and drew prizes for our raffle. In the photo, a client challenges a UT student to a game of bean bag toss.                                        

6. SYM joins 100-Day Youth Challenge
This year we partnered with LifeWorks and ECHO on a 100-day challenge to house as many street-dependent youths under age 25 as possible. Our role was to make sure clients completed the application form and 27 of our clients from the West Campus streets did so! Each youth in the photo and many others were placed into apartments. If they meet the criteria and become able to pay rent, they will be able to remain there!

7. Darvin Receives His Work Visa
Darvin Tan started with SYM as an intern in 2015, and he discerned that his calling was to stay. However, he didn't have a visa. We applied for a religious work visa for him and, amazingly, received very rapid approval! Darvin is key to keeping our ministry working smoothly. Darvin staffed our annual Turkey Grab, something we do for clients who have recovered from the street every year so they can serve others with a homemade meal. Darvin posed at left with turkey donors from Mothers of Professional Football Players.

8. Computer Lab and Shower Time
Our clients have always wanted access to a clean and safe shower. We were blessed to receive an invitation from University Presbyterian Church to use its fellowship hall, including shower, once a week. We equipped the room with computers so waiting clients can do other things. We also provide access to piano and guitar. Nothing like hanging out after a nice, refreshing shower! In the photo, a client and a volunteer share an interest in drawing.

9. LifeWorks, SYM Strategic Agreement
In October, we learned of a new opportunity for a permanent home for SYM. We forged a much-expanded alliance with Congregational Church of Austin to utilize its basement as a new Drop-In Cooperative center, where clients can get safety net services, receive guidance counseling, and learn soft life skills for jobs and apartment living. We also expanded our partnership with LifeWorks, which will provide counseling, case management and group support in our Drop-In Center. The photo shows leaders of the three organizations.

10. Clients come inside to enjoy Showtime!
This summer was quite hot, and we had a wonderful invitation from long-time partner St. Austin's Parish Church to use an air-conditioned fellowship room to give our clients a break. Together, we watched two movies each Friday afternoon and shared snacks and dinner together. It became one of our most popular indoor events! Clients surprised us with their movie choices, such as "Homeward Bound," "Hairspray," and "Daddy's Home!"

4 ways you can support us!

Help us break even for 2016!We need only $10,000 more to reach our year-end giving goal!

Pray for one specific client every three to four weeks.

Dec 14, 2016

Drop-In Center: what is it, and where will SYM take it?

This is the rest of the “Drop-In Center: what is it, and where will SYM take it?”

This will involve the merging of the Lifeworks “Drop-In” culture with the SYM “Relationship-Based Event” culture. It will be a step-by-step process over the next 24 months:
1. To facilitate this merger, a relationship event will be held every day at 11am in the new space. This is not a come-and-go affair. It is a programmed event with a beginning, middle, and end. Clients who desire to form relationships and build community (as well as have lunch) will have the opportunity to do so during the event.
2. Next, we will transition to a drop-in format from 2 to 6pm. This will be an open time for clients to come and go. Buffet meals will be available at 2 and 5pm.
3. Another critical piece of the transition is the addition of the name Co-op to the Drop-in. This will help the clients understand that they are expected to give back to our community as they receive services. They can give back by helping with setup, cleanup, organization and other tasks. Not all will be able to act as cooperative partners initially, but the message will be that we believe they all need to start moving to that goal.
4. Some unique services of SYM, like access to the Fig Leaf Clothing Closet and the University Presbyterian Church shower facilities, will continue until we can offer equivalent access in other ways in our own facility. Other SYM programs like legal support groups and employment support will be folded into the Drop-In schedule. SYM plans include LifeWorks’ mobile case management staff and group counseling services to continue using the Drop-In location to visit clients and provide services. We hope to invite other providers as well.
5. The transition will open opportunities for additional services and to serve new groups of clients. In January, we will be increasing from four meals per week to providing eight meals per week. We will also be adding a canned food pantry for taking food away when needed. We are forming a team under an experienced food clinician.

6. Beginning in March, we hope to offer services to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking victims in partnership with Allies Against Slavery. This will increase the number of clients being served.

Dec 12, 2016

Making It Through the Holidays After a Traumatic Past


Photo via Pixabay by Ralfor

Everyone is supposed to be full of good cheer and happiness during the holiday season.  Decorations and twinkling lights signify a time of giving and festivities, and as you are just stepping into adulthood, shouldn’t you be ready to jump into the celebrations?  As a trauma survivor, it can be hard to forget events of the past and truly enjoy the holidays when they arrive.  
Traumatic events have shaped your sense of security and ability to feel joy during the holiday season.  It takes time for you to recover from those events and break down walls you may have built to keep you safe.  It is possible to find ways to cope, move forward with your life, and eventually enjoy the holidays.  
You Are an Adult
The trauma you have suffered may have occurred in part due to an adult not being around to help you or take proper care of you before or after the event.  Try to remember that now you are an adult and can care of and love yourself.  Think about who you are today and who you want to be.  You have the power in your life and can make important choices that are good for your well-being.  
The holidays are busy with parties and family get-togethers, but you can make choices not to be around people who are dismissive of your past trauma or in places that may remind you of it.  Remembering that you are of legal age and can leave a situation that is stressful can be a freeing experience.  Alternatively, small doses of difficult situations will boost confidence and independence.  
Connect with Others
Traumatic events make people want to withdraw and isolate themselves from others.  Most of the time being alone makes things worse, especially during the holidays.  Making an effort to maintain some relationships with trusted family members or friends can help you recover.  Talking about the trauma is not necessary if you are not comfortable with that yet.  Connecting about other life issues and interests can help you feel like part of a bigger picture in which you are necessary and wanted.  
Join a support group for trauma survivors or talk with a clergy member, counselor, or therapist.  Do not be afraid to seek help.  Talking with others who have shared similar experiences or know how to help you cope with those experiences will reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness.  
Make a Holiday Game Plan
Keep your expectations realistic.  The holidays do not mean automatic happiness and perfect family celebrations.  Think about what holiday traditions you want to continue and new ones that you’d like to bring into your life to make you happy.  The things you value about the season can be completely different than the next person.  Focus on what you would like to do with people you would be happy to be with.  
If you decide to attend holiday parties, plan for ways to cope with memories by actively diverting your attention.  You can go help the host in the kitchen, get involved in a board game with friends or family, or watch a funny holiday movie.  You can even take a trusted friend with you to actively engage in conversation and party festivities with.
Avoid drinking and drugs, as these tend to exaggerate emotions and anxiety.  Plan to get your own drinks and food, or bring your own to avoid being handed things during the party.
Take Care of You
Staying healthy during the holidays increases your ability to handle stress and helps keep emotions in check.  Avoid too much junk food and eat more frequent, small meals to keep blood sugar levels even and curb mood swings.  Get plenty of sleep and try to stay on a set sleep schedule.  Lack of sleep can stress your body and make you more susceptible to getting sick.  
The holidays can be hectic, but schedule time for exercise and relaxation.  Exercise will give you energy to face the day, boost your confidence, and help you sleep better.  Whether it’s going to a gym, running or biking outside, or resuming a favorite sport, try to fit it into your holidays and your life.  
Don’t forget your mental and emotional well-being.  Avoid speaking negatively about yourself, and bolster your confidence by finding all the positives.  Look around and enjoy the things that make the holidays beautiful to you.  You made it this far, you are stepping into adulthood, and you are in charge of your life.  

Nov 30, 2016

Christmas Letter

Children and babies. Christmas revolves around them. Once a baby was born in Bethlehem, but there was no room for Him. Things have changed -- or have they?

In our 2015 annual report we wrote that we had noticed horrible miscarriage and infant death rates among the homeless young women we serve on Guadalupe Street. The viable birth rate was very low. It broke our hearts – so, we made trying to change it a target.

First we raised awareness. Our clients’ love for life helps them survive on the street, but it also makes them less averse to getting pregnant. So we lovingly focused on 2015 as the year we would raise that survival rate. We gave our young women and couples a measurable objective: count the number of months their pregnancies were spent mainly on the street. The number started at zero for everyone. We helped them take action to keep that number low. They responded well.

One young lady, “Trudy,” became pregnant while homeless and started down a path we’d seen many times before: get a job, stay on the streets until the baby was born, then get an apartment with the baby’s dad. As she participated in our prayer times, Bible studies and hangouts, she began to see things differently. Trudy agreed to move back home with her mother, an act that rekindled a difficult adult relationship. She focused, however, on getting ready for the baby. Trudy got a job. She applied to programs to help her with housing. Finally, in her sixth month of pregnancy, with a "score" of only one of those months spent pregnant on the street, Trudy moved into her own apartment!

Several of our pregnant clients followed this model and got their unborn children off the streets. When their babies arrive, there will be room and love for them!

It wasn’t just the street youth having children who engaged with us. We were overjoyed to see all of our clients, not just those pregnant, engage with us to start a culture change. We impress upon the street youth we serve that to continue to live on the streets while pregnant is just too dangerous for the unborn children.

This is one story of many as we pursue our mission to know, love and serve street-dependent youth. Next year that mission will grow, and it will be a challenge, as we occupy a new building, take over the vital services that have always been provided there, and continue to adapt to a growing Austin urban landscape.

We are blessed to serve these young people. They are children in some ways, adults in others. How we treat these children says a lot about our world. Is there room for them today? Have things changed since Bethlehem? I am pleased to say that we welcome street youth with open arms. We encourage them to expect better for themselves.

New Space for Street Youth Along Guadalupe to Open in January - By KATE GROETZINGER

Missionary & Founder of Street Youth Ministry Terry Cole speaks with local area youth in the hall of the Congregational Church.
In a room at the Austin Congregational Church, Terry Cole talks with 10 young adults. They’ve come to see Cole, but also to eat. 
When  Cole was laid off of his job as an engineer in 2008, he decided to dedicate his life to rehabilitating young people living on the street around UT. By his account, homeless youth have called the West Campus neighborhood near Guadalupe Street known as "the Drag" home since at least the 1970s.
Every Tuesday, Cole holds court at the Congregational Church, where he invites young homeless people from 18 to 30 years old to come eat. His organization, Street Youth Ministry, serves homeless youth through events held in churches around UT.
According to Cole, the youth he serves have always been drawn to the neighborhood around the university for the same reason other young people are.
“Young people like to hang out with young people. That’s just a universal fact,” Cole said. “They are separating from parents and they want to hang out with each other, and the center of young people in Austin is undeniably the 40 Acres.”
Jerome Ray, a client of Street Youth Ministry, is one of these young people. He says he likes to hang out with students at the residential co-ops in the neighborhood. But, when he hits the drag, he is treated differently than the students he befriends.
“Two weeks ago I went into Medici CafĂ©,” Ray said. “And, when I walked in the guy was like, ‘Hey, you need to buy something.’ And I was like, ‘Do you talk like that to all your customers, or is it just because my pants are dirty? It’s just because my pants are dirty, huh?’”
Cole says the police also treat homeless youth differently. Ever since the murder of UT student Haruka Weiser by a young homeless person last spring, Cole says the neighborhood has been hostile toward his clients, as well as his ministry. 
Cole speaks with two clients at Congregational Church.
“Around the first of March in 2016, the West Campus neighborhood united in a very solid message that said, ‘We are getting rid of homeless young people’” he said. “It was actually prior to the murder.”
Cole says he’s seen the number of homeless youth in the neighborhood decrease by half of what it was in 2015, when it spiked due to people in the area making and using the drug K2 on the street.
“The community has demanded the presence of the police, and it has without question improved the safety on the street. Unless you’re a young homeless person looking for services, then they feel pretty unsafe right now,” Cole said.
Cole is focused on rebuilding trust between homeless youth and the West Campus community. He encouraged his clients to come up with a way to give back to the neighborhood, and they decided to “own” the alley behind AT&T and Jamba Juice on the drag.
“And by ‘own’ they mean they want to document its deplorable condition and make it better,” he said. “And they want to go to business owners and say, ‘Look, we’re doing this and we’re going to keep doing this. We’re part of your neighborhood, and we’re not all bad.’”
Street Youth Ministry will move into its first brick and mortar location at the corner of San Antonio and 23rd Street in January. The space is currently a drop-in clinic for homeless youth operated by LifeWorks, which lost funding for the space this year.
“There are seven rooms in the space, and I’m partnering with different organizations – mostly churches, but they don’t have to be – to outfit the rooms with supplies for creative self expression, like music and art, and meditation. I think it will become a destination for homeless youth in the neighborhood.”
Cole’s work with homeless youth goes beyond what he calls the “core services” provided by the LifeWorks clinic – some of which Street Youth Ministry will continue to provide when they move into the location. Cole specializes in what he calls “relationship services”, working with his clients to help them achieve stability and get off the streets permanently.
“I think it’s just really important that people realize there’s a positive outcome here,” he said. “They don’t become career homeless people, and it’s why they need special help, and it’s why we’re here.”
Ultimately, Cole hopes to change the perception of street youth around UT. He says that the majority of the youth he works with get off the street within a year and half of deciding to do so.

To read the original article please click here.

Nov 29, 2016

SYM featured on A&E's Intervention

If you wonder what we were dealing with in 2015... watch this. 

Many clients an Terry were interviewed. 

This describes what we call the Catastrophe of 2015 in our annual report.

Intervention In-Depth: Synthetic Marijuana

The DEA has called it a “poison”, the NYPD police commissioner called it “weaponized”, and until a few years ago, it was available over the counter and was the second most abused drug among high school students after pot. What is this mystery drug that has parents, law enforcement and medical experts on high alert? The drug is Spice, also known as synthetic marijuana, K2, Moon Rocks and Black Mamba. We take an unflinching look at a drug that is wreaking havoc in communities across the country.

Aired on:
Nov 22, 2016
Available Until:
Dec 31, 2035
43m 11s

Nov 15, 2016

Latest goals!

Latest goals!
Sept. 15 - Oct. 15
Jobs obtained -- Six clients secured new jobs: One client got a job at E3, another in home health, one hospitality, at Luby's, at W3 and lastly at Sfuzzies.
Jobs maintained -- Seven clients maintained their jobs through the period, even our clients who are working at three different jobs. One Client reached a goal of using his paycheck wisely to purchase necessities.
Housing -- Fourteen clients either found housing anew or maintained the housing they had during the period. Three clients are living with friends until they can find their own places, and one is at the ARCH. Two youths gave thanks for their housing.
Education -- One of our clients returned to school for his GED, and two of them continued their college work, although another one is thinking of going to the Austin Police Academy. One client enrolled at ACC, another began a metalworking class at ACC and one more is making progress with his computer class "Earn While You Learn" program.
Misc. -- Four clients -- obtained driver's licenses or other identification. Another is getting her benefits and also resolved a legal situation with pro bono help from a lawyer. One of our clients gave praise for successful brain surgery and another made her OBGYN appointment. Two have begun volunteering work in the area.


Milestones -- Four clients reached sobriety goals or remained sober.

Reconnection with God

One client continued to be "strong in God," another received prayer, one maintained his belief in Jesus, one shared a powerful testimony of his walk in Christ and last one client found a place to worship -- Wesley House.

Join us in prayers of praise for these goals!
How to pray for clients

Nov 14, 2016

Volunteer News for October

Time to prayerfully consider our blessings!
October was a very busy and productive month, thanks to our volunteers cheerful work and your prayers. Our Saturday Food Recovery Program remains one of the most popular weekly events, but our Computer Lab and Shower Time are where we need more volunteers. We have partnered with Austin Stone and Felicia Fuller to host Wash Night one of the two Tuesdays each month! And let us not forget the Halloween Party provided jointly with Lifeworks. Sorry if you missed it, but the photos are on the website. Check them out HERE.
We will be operating all of November. While we know many people head off to spend Thanksgiving with their families, we invite you to come and spend some time with ours. Prayerfully consider the things you are most thankful for, and see how you can translate that thankfulness into volunteer opportunities for our youth.

During the next 30 days, our greatest in-kind needs are shoes, hoodies, jackets and blankets
Click here for a complete list of items our clients can use.

Love and Light,
Billy Barnes
SYM Volunteer Coordinator
Click here to volunteer!

Nov 9, 2016

Ending Youth Homelessness? Is it possible?

HUD has a project under way called the 100-Day Challenge. You can read about it at here . SYM was not invited to participate at the start, and that bothered me. Shortly afterward, we were asked to help. I wasn't sure whether this was a stunt or "for real." However, we engaged to find out more about how to help our clients. At this point, it is a real project and ECHO is coming to our events frequently to give clients updates and sign up more for a housing list. I don't know whether we can hit our goal – finding housing for 50 currently homeless young people in 100 days -- but it has housed some already, and many of our clients are on the waiting list and excited.
To take a larger role, SYM reached out to ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) with the helps of our long-time partner Lifeworks. Following executive level discussions, we reached initial agreement to become part of a community program to bring permanent HUD assistance to Austin to end community homelessness among youth by 2020. I was quite hesitant, because SYM does not believe that permanent supported housing alone is the solution. ​However, the executives assured me that our voice was welcome and indeed needed if we are to try to address this issue with a wider range of tools than HUD currently supports.
We will see, but it would be wonderful to end youth homelessness in Austin. Functionally, that might mean that youth who age out of foster care would only rarely become homeless. (That would solve half the street youth homelessness.) And it would mean that once homeless young persons are identified, they are helped and housed, and they don't undergo multiple cycles of homelessness, which is now the case. Our clients usually either spend 18 months homeless or 10 years. This means that some find ways to rapidly get off the street but many others get stuck in cycles of homelessness.
Our goal in joining the group is to help Austin learn how to prevent as many youth as possible from becoming homeless, especially from foster care, and then to learn how to shorten the exit time from 18 months and prevent recurrence. It will not be easy and the needs are very different than those of other segments of the homeless population. But agreeing to talk, plan and come together is a good sign.