The Innercity Arts Program that we run here at Ottawa Innercity Ministries can be an escape for most of our youth. We host our Program twice a week from 6pm-8:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. There are youth that continuously ask if they can come early just to hang out with the staff and volunteers even though we encourage them to wait until closer to the scheduled start.
When any of our youth are really struggling or having a very rough week, many will ask if it’s okay to come both nights to Art Group because it really lifts their spirits being around the volunteers and other youth.
A few months ago as I was coming into the OIM building, a volunteer came upstairs to let Jordan, the Program Coordinator, and I know that there was a young man in his early 20’s outside in tears asking to talk to someone. Jordan and I stepped outside to introduce ourselves to this young man who we will call Tommy. We invited Tommy in to talk and have coffee. After Tommy sat down, he began sharing about how he had just left an abusive relationship and wasn’t sure where else to go. Tommy said that he used to come over to OIM years ago and remembered always feeling loved and welcomed and so this was the first place that he thought about returning to. As we sat withhim, his tears turned more into laughter. There was hope in his voice.
From the moment I first came to volunteer here at OIM, I knew this was a special place filled so much with God’s peace, love, and hope. Many of our youth show up for our Innercity Arts Program feeling a little hesitant at first when they learn OIM’s beliefs and values, but very soon come to see that we aren’t going to judge them. We aren’t going to treat them any differently. We aim to make the art program a safe and welcoming place.
~Marissa, Youth Program Assistant