While studying music at Bushnell University, Chelsea King ’16 developed her passion for connecting with youth by serving as a camp counselor. She is especially committed to creating safe spaces for members of marginalized communities. Now, King serves as Guest Advocate at Hosea Youth Services, an organization that supports at-risk and homeless youth in Lane County. In this Q&A, King offers a glimpse into what motivates her to support this population.
What drew you to a career in youth services and your role at Hosea Youth Services?
I have always had a passion for connecting with youth, ever since I was a Camp Counselor back in college. I especially have a heart for communities of people who are outcast & seen/treated as different. At the core, we are all the same. We are each full of light and love. Hosea Youth Services is a safe space that truly cares about a neglected population who is deserving of being seen and supported.
What does a typical day look like at Hosea?
We typically serve around 40 guests throughout the day (M-Th 11am-6:30pm, F 11am-3pm). We offer laundry & shower services, lunch & dinner, access to computers, clothing & camping gear.
What does your specific role do?
My role as Guest Advocate is to sit down with a youth and find out their story and figure out how we can best help them. This usually includes getting a guest set up with a Phone, ID, Birth Certificate, Resumé, Job application, or searching for shelter.
Why is your job industry so important?
Working with youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness is something our city is in dire need of. There is so much negative stigma surrounding homelessness which can make it really difficult to thrive in society. Our job is to assist those in need and to educate our community on how they can help and engage with someone experiencing a different life than they may be used to.
What are some of the key ways in which [Bushnell’s music] program helped prepare you for your career?
My specific field of study [music] may not have a direct impact on my current career, but it did lead to a lot of connected experiences. I’ve worked for churches who allowed me to reach out to local non-profits and businesses in need of support and had the opportunity to plan volunteer events, fundraisers, & service projects that are very similar to the type of work I do now.
I’m very glad Bushnell is filled with staff and faculty who truly care about making a lasting impact on our community. Being involved in ETC day and the Touch Project really gave me a glimpse at the change we can make when we work together to spread love to those who are often ignored.
With your experience, what advice would you give to students who are about to earn a degree and enter the job market?
You do not have to have it figured out yet. You’ll probably work a bunch of random jobs that might not even have anything to do with your major, and that’s okay. It takes time. There’s so much pressure to be “a success”, but we need to redefine that. Being a kind person in a world full of anger and selfishness, that’s a success! Trying something new and it not going as planned, that’s a success! Unapologetically being yourself when it feels like you don’t belong, that’s a success! Don’t stress about having it “figured out”, no one does. You’ll grow and learn and tear it all apart and then grow and learn again. Life isn’t about reaching some “goal”, it’s about all the brilliant, sad, challenging, strange, silly stuff along the way (cheesy as it sounds).
To find out more about Hosea Youth Services, visit their website at www.hoseayouth.org.