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With every cigarette butt comes hope…

March 30, 2012

Spring time is a great time here at the Switch Yard, not just in regards to the great weather but what that weather reveals about the work we do at the centre.
Winter in this community can be a pretty dark time for many of the young people that reside in the area. Each and every day, we provide an open door for them to know that share the unconditional love we have experienced from Christ, but many times the door is not even cracked for this hope to be shared.
Our deck becomes the locations of a lot of great chats surrounding some of life’s toughest situations. Often, I find myself bundling up in the winter or even on some cold spring days, heading out to the deck to just be a listening ear to talk to about whatever darkness is succumbing these kids. Cigarette by cigarette, their stories and feelings are released and can be amazing moments that we can be there for them in hard times, pray for them or just care enough to hear them.
We are humbled and reminded of these times of being there every spring as the snow melts and our lawn around the deck takes on the white and brown of cigarette butts. Many drive by the Switch Yard and cringe their noses at the mess that is created by these abused sticks of nicotine, but we see them symbols of hope shared.
For each and every butt that hits the ground after layer after layer of snow is melted away, a wise person once highlighted to me that they signify a life that we have been able to touch through the centre over the winter months. Don’t take this as a condoning of smoking, we are very supportive of people quitting here at the centre and provide a space to help with that. However, the reality we are facing is many of the youth we encounter here smoke, and inhaling each of those cigarettes are youth that we have been able to talk to and start true, life-changing friendships with.
With every smoke, we have talked about times in prison, times when home can feel like prison and times of darkness. With every cigarette comes discussions on struggles at school, struggles with friends and family, struggles with drugs and alcohol and sadly struggles with self. With every butt that lands on the ground is a chance that we have been able to be there for the youth of this community through the good times and often the bad, sharing an unconditional love that we have experienced through Jesus.
So, the next time you come by the Switch Yard and you see a couple of empty cigarette filters around our door and deck, remember that behind each of those is a young person seeking hope. Inhaling that cigarette is a kid who needs a place where they can be shown that they are cared more more than they can ever ask or imagine. A kid that needs God and the hope and love that comes from him. They are looking for change in their lives, through sharing God’s love over a smoke on our deck we can begin that change and make a difference.

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