In DreamWeek event, homeless youth help people recognize bias

Dreamweek event encourages homeless youth to share their story

SAN ANTONIO – As part of DreamWeek, local arts organization Esperanza Peace and Justice Center will host a spoken word event that features the work of homeless LGBTQ youth in San Antonio.

“When You See Us” will take place Thursday evening and is designed to hear the voices and experiences of the youth to ultimately help the community recognize any bias.

The spoken word event features undocumented, LGBTQ, straight and youth of color ages 18-24 that take shelter at Thrive Youth Center located on the Haven for Hope campus.

Jasmine Boudreaux has been homeless for the past year. For the last week, she's carried around a white spiral notebook. Scribbled on the cover with yellow highlighter reads, "Jasmine don't read." Written inside, are some of Boudreaux's most vulnerable moments she's chosen to share with those who listen during Thursday evening's event.

“Part of it says, ‘And when I hear people say, ‘Well, go get a job,’ I think to myself, well, how can I when I put a fake address or I put an old address or apply that address to a shelter I’m staying at and nobody calls me back? I get no emails. I get nothing,’” Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux never imagined one day she'd have to sleep on the streets.

“I grew up thinking the homeless were just bums,” Boudreaux said. “(I thought) that, yeah, they could get jobs, but they don’t want to.

"Now that I am (homeless), I realized, yeah, it’s hard for us to get a job.”

She’s been at Thrive Youth Center for the past two weeks. Thrive is a safe shelter specifically for youth that identify as LGBTQ. It’s a place where several, including Josiah Valdivai, have recently found a voice through their preparation for the spoken word event.

"It's a letter to the world," Valdivai said. "When someone sees me, I feel like they think I'm a weak, brittle and a good for nothing, homeless, lifeless individual."

Valdivai became homeless three years ago, soon after he turned 18 years old. He admits his situation has improved since he's taken shelter at Thrive, as is his perception of the trials of life.

“Well, one thing’s for sure, having a roof over my head is definitely a lot better,” Valdivai said. “In life, I have learned that bad things in life happen to you aren’t meant to hurt you, they’re only meant to make you a better you.”

The “When You See Us” homeless youth spoken word event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at 922 San Pedro Ave. For more information on how to RSVP for the free event, visit DreamWeek’s website.

To learn more about Thrive Youth Center and its services, click here.

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