Although our idyllic little town of Boulder seems affluent in every way, there are 200 kids on the streets on any given night.
Attention Homes is the only youth shelter in Boulder and I recently participated in their first ever “Sleep Out.”
Our goal was to raise money and awareness and we did both. In total, about 40 community leaders in Boulder raised about $45,000. We all slept on thin pieces of cardboard (no camping mats allowed) and picked out flat plots of grass near the Attention Homes office in downtown Boulder.
I had my buddy John Tayer next to me and we had a great time chatting under a beautiful starry sky. It was damn cold though, wow! I tossed and turned all night, kept awake by traffic noise, street lights and drunk kids wandering home. I’m guessing everyone only slept about two to three hours and in the morning we all looked like a rag tag group of derelicts.
We tried to make this as “real” as we could but in reality, we all got up, jumped in our cars (or bikes) and went to a nice warm home with refrigerators stocked with food.
This isn’t the reality for homeless people and the most sobering moment of my experience was at about 6 a.m. when a real homeless lady wandered into our camp. The first words out of her mouth were, “Do you know where I can get some food?” She said she was pregnant and had just walked across town in search of food. She looked desperate, ragged and sad. I directed her to the church where we had plenty of food waiting for the 40 sleep outers. I can kind of relate to sleeping outside and then having to search for food for days on end and it sucks. But I was on a reality TV show and I chose to be there, knowing I could quit at anytime and easily rejoin my cozy lifestyle.
I choose to rough it with my adventurous lifestyle—to be uncomfortable with the goal of overcoming physical and mental challenges. I do it because it makes me feel alive and I love being close to Mother Nature. But it’s just that, a choice. If I ever get really uncomfortable I can just grab my credit card and find a hotel and order a pizza. Homeless people don’t have this same choice, especially kids.
I was very proud to be part of this fundraiser and to be included in a group of very inspirational Boulderites. I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to working with at-risk youth on far off corners of the planet and it’s time to help out in my own community, a community I dearly love and cherish.
This video tells the story of our night on the streets.
Ed: Lynn H.