Peep the scene of Jesus’ birth, where Mary and Joseph—unable to secure better accommodations due to their poverty—are forced to take shelter with the animals housed behind a Bethlehem motel. Although “there is no room for them in the inn,” they do their best to make room for Jesus right where they are. In Walltown, years of economic underdevelopment and a wave of gentrification have left “no room in the hood” for young people that grew up here. Thus, in 2014, Urban Hope opened the Alexander House as a way to carve out a place in the community for young adults who wanted to stay after high school or return after college. One of our current residents, Demicheal Burton, says the A-House is an answer to prayer. Growing up, his family bounced around a lot, both in the neighborhood and around town, making home an unstable place to learn and grow. He asked God for peace and a place where he could focus on developing himself through education. Now, just a year removed from high school, Demicheal is thriving in Walltown, taking classes at Durham Tech Community College, working at Target, and serving as an Urban Hope intern.
The Alexander House is just one example of how Urban Hope seeks to make room—what we call safe places—for youth and young adults so that we can grow together into our God given gifts. Another one of those safe places is the Walltown Aspiring Youth after school program, affectionately known as the WAY. For the last five years, Durham native Jennifer Jones—whose extended family is from the neighborhood—has served as a WAY coach helping small groups of girls discover their purpose, power, and potential as they grow together academically. One of Jennifer’s many gifts is her ability to connect and empower through dance. During my first year as director, she launched an initiative called Simply Beautiful with four girls from our summer camp. Just last week, she choreographed a piece for 31 girls at a local elementary school raising the bar for what it means to raise up generations of young heroes.
So as Advent approaches, we remember how Mary and Joseph made room for Jesus in a manger and continue to make room for him in our own hearts and lives. On this #GivingTuesday, will you give to Urban Hope so that we can continue to make room for the gifts of God embodied in our youth and young adults? A monthly gift of $50 supports Demicheal as he meets weekly with neighborhood youth Darrin and Fred to navigate life as black boys. A gift of $600 provides one young lady with a semester of academic and life skills coaching from Jennifer at the WAY. Overall, we are seeking to raise $25,000 to sustain our academic-year activities via donations of all sizes ($75, $250, $500, $1,000+) and frequencies (monthly, quarterly, annually). Please consider making your tax-deductible gift by December 31, 2017. To give, make your check payable to The Navigators and mail in with the enclosed giving card and envelope. You can also give online at www.navstaff.org/project/22874309. Your generosity will make a generational impact allowing us to make room for young adults, like Demicheal and Jennifer, who are using their gifts to make room for the next generation of Walltown youth!