by Nate Custer, Board Member, Volunteer, and one of the founders of Open Gate
I’ve been involved with Open Gate for over ten years. In that time, I’ve seen what we do change in ways big and small. What has been steady the whole time is that the core of Open Gate’s program is building relationships and fostering community. Every program that has been successful for us has grown organically from those relationships.

We are the community where street youth come together to throw baby showers for each other. We are where street kids mourn miscarriages with a service coordinated with a pastor. We are a community where some folks come back years later to share the good things going on in their life.

We have helped participants secure housing, continue their education, and find jobs. We are a community to which a participant walks across town because he believes we are a place where he can safely tell us that he is feeling suicidal; we a community that took him to a mental health clinic.

We are a community where a mom, who lost a child to a rare genetic disorder and is pregnant again, can weep on a supportive shoulder when she was told this baby has a 50% chance of being born with the same terminal condition. We are a community where people who came as homeless youth are now serving as kitchen leads. We are a community that reads each other poetry, plays games together, eats together, and helps each other out. We are a community that stands with a drug addict reminding them that there is hope, that they can choose something else, and, most of all, that they are loved and accepted just as they are. We show up for each other at the hospital, we show up for each other at the funeral, we have shown up every single week for over 10 years.

I keep coming back to be part of this community. I don’t know of another place like it.

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