‘You’re important’: Teens' meals for the homeless come with powerful messages

The Mililani YMCA's Houseless Outreach program is run by teenagers. Once a week the teens...
The Mililani YMCA's Houseless Outreach program is run by teenagers. Once a week the teens prepare and deliver meals to homeless families in Wahiawa. They've done it 41 weeks in a row.(Bryan Murphy)
Updated: Jan. 15, 2019 at 5:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every Wednesday, right after school gets out, a group of teenagers cluster around an outdoor kitchen at the Mililani YMCA to put together brown bag lunches.

"We start off with sandwiches. We make sandwiches. And then we put drinks in the bag and little snacks," Natalie Gamboa said.

The meals are for homeless families who live in tents and under tarps in Wahiawa.

The teens made it their mission to never miss a week.

"I'm humbled by their heart and just their compassion for their fellow man. They're truly an inspiration," Mililani YMCA program director Bryan Murphy said.

The group’s Houseless Outreach project began with grant money. When it ran out, the kids turned to fundraising so they could continue buying the food.

Through delivering the meals, they’ve come to know the people they serve.

"Now we go and we talk and that's the better part of it. It's not just the sandwiches, I think it's more of the company and the relationships that we've made," Chloe Kelly said.

Gamboa gives the meals a personal touch.

“I take the time to write little notes on their bags — things like ‘You’re beautiful’ and ‘You’re important.’ Just very encouraging words,” she said.

Murphy oversees the teenagers and accompanies them on their weekly food runs.

"It's really given them a different perspective on the power of what you can do when you work together and put your minds together towards something that is bigger than yourself," he said.

It's gone beyond providing food.

Once a month, the teens help clean the homeless camps.

"They're so grateful and always happy to see us, and they're always welcoming," Gamboa said.

This week will make 42 straight weeks member of Mililani YMCA’s youth group will carry out their simple and selfless act of kindness.

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