If you build it they will come. That's what Kevin Lamson, founder of Hearts with a Mission in Medford Oregon believed. He knew God was telling him that he, Kevin Lamson, was destined to be the change for teens in Southern Oregon.
The community provides shelter and services for adults, but often homeless and at risk youth are overlooked. Some lose hope and turn to drugs and alcohol or end up in a life on the streets. Homeless students represent almost 9% of the Medford School District's student body, compared to the statewide average of 2.8%.
"We needed $45,000 for plumbing for the renovations. We had $7,000. I just thought if this was meant to be then God would provide. When he did, my friends knew that there was no question whose baby this really was."
Kevin is a man who believes whole heartedly in what he is doing. He did build it and they did come. Hearts with a Mission opened the end of December 2009. Just a few short months ago and with an open heart and a faith that was without question, the kids began to come.
The stories are gut wrenching and Kevin could not tell them without tears in his eyes. Some of the kids that have come through the doors into the safe haven at the newly remodeled Hearts with a Mission, have been brought by their parents wanting to give them something more than they are able at that time.
"My heart goers out to the dads that have dropped off their child believing they had failed as a parent, when the truth is, to give up your child because you love him/her is an absolute act of sacrifice," says Kevin.
One story stood out more than any of the many Kevin had for us. I tell it here with names omitted because the girl is still in the streets as far as it is known.
"This 14 year old kept digging int her arm with the eraser part of a pencil. She did this till she drew blood. She never reacted from the pain. She never cried and she never stopped what she was doing. She then took a lighter out of her pocket and set this newly self-inflicted wound on fire. I cringed, and when I asked her why she did it, she said, 'I hurt myself because the pain I feel in my arm, takes away the pain I feel in my heart. At least this pain is real.'
"It's because of these kids that I do this. They don't believe anyone cares and we must show them that we do. " Kevin tells me these stories, trying not to show his emotions, but he's not very good at being a tough guy. Nope. He's a teddy bear and the kids love him just as much as he loves them.
I could continue telling the stories that Kevin told me, but I won't. I wouldn't do him justice. Instead, I will let Kevin and a few of his clients tell you their stories themselves. Please watch the video above, but keep the kleenex handy.
To contact Kevin or to make a badly needed donation, please click on any Hearts with a Mission name.