There’s Always a Seat at These Tables
Imagine finishing high school with high hopes of success but being completely on one’s own at age 18 without the support of parents or a family to provide guidance toward achieving future goals.
“Circumstances, such as poverty, racism, substance abuse, absent parents and other family struggles make it significantly tougher for some young people to navigate successfully into independent adulthood,” says Bob Stergos, who along with his wife, Chrissy, founded the St. Louis-based nonprofit, A Seat at the Table.
In 2014, Chrissy says she and Bob sensed God urging them to expand on the vision He’d given them about assisting others by sharing their home and inviting others into their family, perhaps providing housing assistance, resources, educational support, vocational assistance and emotional and spiritual counseling.
Bob and Chrissy already knew a little something about lending support. They have four sons by birth, so their house was pretty full. However, in 2001, the family was presented with an opportunity to help a young man in difficult circumstances in need of a new place to grow. The family made a unanimous decision to invite the young man to live with their family.
It wasn’t long before a second young man, similarly in need of a new living situation, came to their attention through a local youth pastor. The family reached consensus again; an invitation was made and accepted.
To date, the Stergos family has invited a total of five young men to “take a seat at the table” with them, staying for varying time frames as they work to become independent adults.
“Each young man came from a unique situation which made living with his own families difficult or impossible, and we welcomed each one with acceptance—providing love, coaching, celebrations and encouragement,” Bob. says
“Each has become a valued member of the family, occupying a seat at the table and a space in the hearts of the family.”
Now, A Seat at the Table nonprofit exists to bridge the gaps between partnering youth groups and adulthood by providing residential mentoring in a family environment for at-risk and under-resourced 18-25-year olds selected from those partner youth organizations, such as Urban K-Life, Angels’ Arms, Lift for Life Gym, The Tabernacle and Living the Word Church in East St. Louis.
Bob says two “residential” models are offered by A Seat at the Table:
- An apartment building in which a “house mom and dad” care for up to four under-resourced 18-25-year olds.
- An existing home in which a couple or family agrees to take in at least one qualifying under-resourced 18-25-year old.
Bob says his background of 20-plus years in the employee incentives/engagement field, along with his team-building experience, certainly has come in handy. Likewise, as an associate pastor specializing in youth, young adult and family issues, Chrissy also brings valuable skills to the table.
“Ways to contribute to A Seat At The Table include volunteering time and talents, donating items to wish lists, qualifying to become house parents or make a tax-deductible financial donation.”
—Bob Stergos, co-founder of A Seat at the Table.