By: George Addison
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing – but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.”
Mother Teresa - Nun and Missionary - Nobel Prize Recipient - 1910 -1997
In our lifetime many of us are blessed if we experience one miracle… not the intangible type which often leaves us grasping for words to explain it, but miracles of the spirit which people encounter each and every day. These miracles come to us in the form of a Mother Teresa or someone who lends a helping hand, those who give of themselves selflessly to the benefit of others without seeking reward or acknowledgement.
Jordan Connell is such a person who is giving of spirit, purpose and love; a person who is impacting countless lives while attempting to get a nation to love itself and to love
its people by ending homelessness in America.
The National Alliance to end Homelessness estimates that there are 1.7 million children under 18 that have a run-away or homeless episode each year, with 400,000 remaining homeless longer than a week. In addition, increases of the number of poor households, youth, foreclosures and the unemployed continue to impact the homeless nationwide despite pronouncements of an improving economy. The average income of the working poor is estimated around $9,400 annually, this is hardly enough to fund suitable room and board anywhere in the country.
Jordan Connell of Team 314, says he relates to this growing segment of the population mostly because of some of the early challenges he encountered during his youth, when his parents separated and he no longer wanted to be home.
Connell said, although he was not a runner, he began running and asked God to use him for something more. It was later while working as a counselor at a Salvation Army summer camp, that he had a roommate who exhibited more joy than he had ever seen.
This young man shared the story of his crack addicted mother and growing up on the streets. Connell said, “I did not know how he could have so much joy, but it was that summer that I knew, this is what God wanted me to do!” Inspired with a renewed sense of faith, Connell felt he was being led to do more for the homeless and his 3000 mile journey across the country from New York to Los Angeles had begun.
Connell recently visited Louisville, Kentucky to support the efforts of the YMCA Safe Place and its various youth programs during its Annual Breakfast Fundraiser. Laurie Jackson, Executive Director of National Safe Place, said Mr. Connell’s message about youth homelessness and connecting with young people in crisis, is a message they share. Jackson added, “I’ve known Jordan for about a year and a half and met with him in Kansas City when he first began talking about his plan to run. Jordan’s message about youth homelessness and connecting with young people in crisis is really what Safe Place is about all across the country, providing avenues for young people to find and access services so that they don’t end up being on the street. So, as he did his run, he stopped in many Safe Place communities. It’s really a parallel message.”
To make a real impact on teen homelessness Jackson further said, “People have to look at their community and ask the question: what are we doing for adolescents and young people who are struggling? What are we doing to help those kids not be on the street? Why would we not want our community to be a Safe Place community? I think this is the basic question you must ask. How do we make our community a Safe Place community? Ask the players, those people who provide youth services, other organizations, the media? It’s an issue. There are millions of young people who remain homeless across this country and it doesn’t take much for those homeless adolescents to get sucked into victimization, prostitution, trafficking or all of those things.”
Jordan Connell and Laurie Jackson both agree that they can’t make these strides alone and its the volunteers and business partners which have helped them thus-far be successful. One volunteer is Bill Taylor, an Engagement Leader with Cerner Corporation based in Kansas City, Missouri. Cerner is a company known for valuing the improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities.
Taylor said, “the message of both Jordan Connell and Safe Place resonate across the United States. There’s a lot of love among those striving to make a difference, and the love we have for our children, the love we have for our community is going to make the difference for ending child or teen homelessness. Homelessness does exist and is not an invisible issue, but an issue we want to make people aware of on a community and corporate level.”
- Edmonton homeless project endorsed in federal budget (cbc.ca)
- Budget cuts hurt shelters for D.C.’s homeless, runaway kids (wjla.com)
- What To Do When Homelessness and Mental Illness Collide (anchoredinknowledge.wordpress.com)
- Broward County Vice Mayor Sharief Wins Approval to Aid #Broward Homeless (browardnetonline.com)
- Washington D.C. Turning Youth Away From Homeless Shelters Despite $400 Million Budget Surplus (thinkprogress.org)
- Menifee votes to oppose ‘Homeless Bill of Rights’ (utsandiego.com)