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This Youth Director Knows "There’s No Place Like Home"

October 18, 2010

Youth Director Jim Best has learned the value of “home” through his ministries and participation in Sleep Out Saturday. “Home is a place where you feel accepted, you feel welcome, you feel loved,” he says. “We participate in SOS to help someone who doesn’t get these feelings because they don’t have a place to live.”

Jim’s involvement in SOS began five years ago while serving as Youth Director at Community United Methodist Church in Naperville. Youth Directors at two surrounding churches suggested that the three churches get involved with SOS together as a community block event.

After relocating to Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles as the Youth Minister, Jim has introduced SOS as a new event to the congregation this year. There is nothing similar to SOS in this area, he says.

“Enthusiasm goes down when teens do the same events year after year. SOS is something new and it gets the kids motivated and excited.”

Jim is eager for the community’s response to Baker’s first SOS. The church is located on a main street in St. Charles and Jim hopes many will see the event and it will perk the interest of other St. Charles and Fox Valley churches so they too can get involved next year.

Jim plans to have his group attend the Rally. “The Rally is a great place for the group to see that hundreds of others are also participating and learn some facts about homelessness.” He likes to take notes on what the speakers say during the Rally and then quizzes the group on the bus ride back about statistics, rewarding each correct answer with hand warmers or warm socks. While planning this year’s activities, Jim recalls his most memorable SOS moment when he planned to have the police come to the Sleep Out site to roust the participants from their boxes and force them to move their belongings from one church parking lot to another church lot. The event was eye opening, he said, and the group learned that for the homeless, their shelters must be moveable.

To build motivation with his group leading up to the event, Jim keeps in constant contact with them and always asks how their preparations are going.

“The group is really fired up,” he says. “They are already collecting boxes and planning crews are meeting to build the shelters.”

As a SOS veteran, Jim advises new leaders to “stick to their guns.”

“Be prepared. Yes it’s going to be cold. Yes it’s going to be a long night,” he says. “But that’s the purpose- to give your group an eye-opening experience and allow them to feel more empathy going through life.”

You too can organize a group to sleep out for Sleep Out Saturday. Contact Jennie at jennie.gates@bridgecommunities.org for information on how your group or family can join us and sleep-out to raise awareness and funds to help homeless families.

Register your group and join us at the Rally on November 6th at 6:30 pm at 505 Crescent Blvd in downtown Glen Ellyn.

Support Baker Memorial Methodist Church in their efforts to raise funds for homeless families.

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