This past Thursday night, October 22 Chain of Lakes Church partnered with Blaine High School (BHS) to share an event called Box City. We slept out in boxes on the tennis courts of BHS to give participants an experience of homelessness and to publicize the issue of homelessness among teenagers in Anoka County.
This was the second year in a row that Box City took place. For a while I wasn’t even sure we would have Box City. The Social Worker at Blaine High School with whom we worked last year left for another position in the school district. It wasn’t until some teachers at Blaine High School approached Chain of Lakes about doing Box City were we sure that this would happen. How cool is it that the school approached the church about partnering together! And how often does that happen? We are so glad that Chain of Lakes has developed this level of partnership with Blaine High School.
Once we decided Box City would happen, we had a planning team made up of folks from the school and Chain of Lakes. We meet for five weeks. It was a wonderful and effective planning group.
Over a hundred teenagers, adults from the school and thirteen adults from Chain of Lakes ultimately participated. (The picture above is from folks from Chain of Lakes.)
We started the evening with a program about teen homelessness. Jon Sitarz had us all in tears as he shared his story of starting Hope 4 Youth; Jessica, a student from Blaine High School who served on the planning team, shared her stories of helping homeless teenagers; Rochelle Carrick, a woman who attends Chain of Lakes, shared her story of being homeless as a teenager; I talked about the importance of having compassion towards teens who were homeless.
At the program we discovered that some of the students raised money for the event. One student raised over $400; another student raised $200.
After the program we went out to set up boxes. We were fortunate in that Josh Dochniak, from Chain of Lakes, again was able to provide boxes. The weather was warm and the feeling among all participants was excitement.
The choir at Blaine High School was holding their concert. They dedicated a piece to teenagers who were homeless and mentioned Box City. After one song, they took a collection for homeless teenagers. They raised $1,200!
We went to bed in our boxes a little after 10. About four in the morning it started to rain. The rain wasn’t strong and it never made it through the box in which I was sleeping. The rain reminded us of the challenges that homeless teenagers encounter that the rest of us won’t encounter.
Most of us were up at 6:00 in the morning to start taking down our boxes. The students went directly to school. The idea was for them to have an experience of going to school as a homeless teenager would experience. We cleaned up and were off the tennis courts by 7:30 a.m.
Paul Edget—a participant in Box City from Chain of Lakes—wrote about his experience at: https://www.facebook.com/pedgett?fref=ts
This was a marvelous event that gives me wonderful hope that the goal of ending homelessness among teenagers can be reached!