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A Dollar for Our Daughters

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A Dollar for Our Daughters

Funding for Homeless Youth Program Secured Girls Avoid Homelessness – But We Still Need Your Support

Seven young, formerly homeless women, ages 18-22 years old, will be spared from homelessness thanks to the generosity of many, and a new five-year grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded to Naperville-based 360 Youth Services.

In October 2012, the organization learned that federal funding was eliminated for its transitional housing program for homeless young women.  “The program is one of only a few in the state and the thought of closing it due to lack of funding seemed ludicrous,” said Debbie Carr, Residential Services Director for 360 Youth Services.  The agency immediately responded to the news of the funding cut with a strong advocacy initiative and a social media campaign called “A Dollar for Our Daughters.”

Board member, Nicki Anderson, spearheaded the social media campaign and helped generate over $80,000 in just a few months. “We learned just how generous people can be in a time of need. These girls needed an advocate and they got hundreds. I can’t tell you how much this meant to me to see these girls get what they deserve, a shot at a positive future.”

Despite the funding challenges and uncertainty, the program has received lots of attention from local community members, especially women. A group known as 100 Concerned Women in Naperville answered the call for help and raised almost $10,000 for the program as each member wrote a personal check for $100.

“Our top priority has always been keeping these young women from becoming homeless,” said Ron Hume, Executive Director for the agency.  Hume pointed out that while donations helped keep the program alive through the initial crisis, funding is still needed.  The new grant is $100,000 less than the previous five-year grant.  “We will work harder than ever to make up those lost funds.  We know we can do it, and so does the community that helped us save this incredible program.”

In 2006, 360 Youth Services led the crusade to open the unique transitional housing program for this hugely underserved population.  While programs existed in the Chicago metro area for pregnant or parenting young women from this age group, no such program existed in the area for those who were not pregnant or parenting.  The program currently has a 98% success rate transitioning homeless young women to independence and permanent housing within 18 months.

In 2008, 360 Youth Services received its first grant to provide a transitional housing program for ten homeless girls. For the past five years, over 60 young women have relied on the program for housing and support services.

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Meet Our Girls

Meet “The Girls” of the Transitional Housing Program

Demetria & Donisha

For much of their teenage years these twins, who are currently seniors in high school, were homeless. Along with their mother and brother, they lived in the homes of friends and relatives until a homeless shelter was their only alternative. When the school social worker suggested the THP at 360 Youth Services, their mother agreed knowing that she didn’t want them to live in a shelter. The twins are good students and will graduate in the spring. They share the same apartment, and with the continued support from staff, they are flourishing. Without the program, they would be living in a shelter.

Julia

juliaAt age 19 Julia was referred to 360 Youth Services by DuPage PADS. She struggled with an eating disorder, anxiety and depression, and the relationship with her family was more than strained. Not only did the program provide shelter for Julia, but through counseling services she has learned to value herself. She has grown tremendously. Julia works full-time and is starting classes at College of DuPage in January. She feels that the non-judgmental and caring atmosphere at THP is what has helped her grow. Without the program Julia would likely be living on the street or in a shelter.

Arielle

arrielleGrowing up in a rural area can be tough, especially if you have a strained relationship with your parents and the closest friends you have are miles away. Just ask Arielle. While waiting to get into the program, Arielle was asked to leave her home. She was forced to quit her job and move in with her grandmother in the city. She is very talented and while she has a job as a clerk in a shipping company, her dream is to be a graphic artist. She is incredibly grateful for 360 and works very hard to stay focused on her goals, one of which includes graduating from a four-year university. Without the program and its support, Arielle may lose sight of her dreams, never graduate from college, lose her job, and end up in a homeless shelter.

Crystal

Life can be challenging when you grow up in a family with little or no limits, unstable parents, and a victim of sexual abuse. Crystal knows firsthand. She came to THP just over one year ago after the home she was living in with another family member was destroyed. She lost all of her belongings. She felt empty, angry and alone. She trusted no one. All she ever wanted was someone to care about her. Fortunately, she found THP where staff and the other residents respect her and care about her. Today she is looking forward to college classes in January. She is looking for a job, but is not discouraged because she knows that even in her darkest hour she will not be abandoned. Without the program Crystal would probably be alone, angry, living in a shelter and unable to trust anyone.

Sara

Sara has been in the program for six months. As a victim of sexual abuse, she has extensive trust issues and struggles with low self-esteem. Because she doesn’t like to talk about herself, she is a good listener and likes to care for others. She is focused on getting her GED. Sara’s sense of humor has served her well and helps her put her daily challenges into perspective. Without the program, Sara would likely be “couch surfing” – moving sporadically from place to place with little stability, which would probably exacerbate her trust issues.

Savannah

savannahAt 19-years-old Savannah is finally feeling hopeful about her future. As a child she was unfairly labeled as “the black sheep” in her family, often ostracized from family activities. She has suffered from depression and anxiety for most of her life, but because of THP, stable medication and professional intervention, she is on the right track and feeling good. Savannah is grateful for everything the program has done for her, including exposing her to art therapy to help her address her anxiety. She is a kind and generous young woman. Without the program, Savannah might stop taking her meds, become consumed with anxiety, and have to live in a homeless shelter.

The Transitional Housing Program for Girls

 

The Transitional Housing Program opened in January 2008 and helps young women, ages 18-22, who want to work hard, put their lives back together, and become healthy, functioning and independent adults in the community in which they live. Residents in the program are referred from numerous sources including local school districts, DuPage PADS, other homeless shelters, and various social service agencies. The girls must be motivated to change, free of drugs and alcohol, and able to work a structured program that requires them to be employed. They must also have a high school diploma or be working toward a GED. Many of the residents today are enrolled at College of DuPage. Some are still finishing high school.

The girls live in furnished apartments in Lisle (two girls per unit) for up to 18 months while they work toward self-sufficiency and independence. Today there are seven girls who rely on the program for more than just housing. They rely on the program to survive.

What Was the Crisis?

In 2008, 360 Youth Services received its first grant to provide a transitional housing program for ten homeless girls. For the past five years, over 60 young women have relied on the program for housing and support services.

The program is almost entirely funded by a Federal grant, which is applied for every five years. The renewal application was submitted in 2012 and 360 Youth Services learned that the funding, which was limited, would not be awarded for the current cycle. No warning was given, and seven girls who are currently participating in the program faced homelessness . . . again.

These young women would have had no place to go if the program was forced to close due to loss of funding. The current THP residents have worked hard to achieve their goals and improve their life skills such as budgeting. They deserve, at the very least, the opportunity to successfully “graduate” from the program.

Management, Board, and staff members have revisited the program’s budget and made recommendations to cut costs. The end result is an estimated bottom line of $125,943 needed to continue to operate the program until September 30, 2013 so they can successfully transition to permanent housing.

What is 360 Youth Services Doing to Prevent the Program from Closing?

360 Youth Services is still committed to doing whatever it takes to keep this valuable and unique program open and thriving.

  • The program’s budget has been analyzed and costs have been significantly reduced to provide basic operations and support.
  • Outreach to current and new funding sources, such as United Way and foundations, has been coordinated.
  • State and Federal Legislators have been contacted for assistance in securing new funds or identifying additional resources.
  • 360 Youth Services’ Board of Directors has made securing funding for THP a top priority and is launching a multi-faceted campaign to raise the funds and increase awareness of the need for the program.
  • A social media campaign has been designed to increase revenue for the program.

How Can You Help?

The new grant is $100,000 less than the previous five-year grant.

Invest in a life. It only costs 360 Youth Services $874 per month for a young woman in the program to successfully achieve her dreams of independence and permanent housing.

Sixty-four women have benefitted from the program in the past five years and 98% went on to permanent housing. Without this program, these young women will have nowhere to go.

Help us raise the funds we still need:

  • Make a generous donation. $6,118 is all that is needed to save one young life.
  • Connect us with corporate leaders who are willing and motivated to save the world – one life at a time.
  • Host an event with your friends with the goal of raising funds to save a life.
  • Spread the word – we still need the help to
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Posted in Noteworthy News

For more information, please contact:

Debbie Carr
Residential Housing Director
630.717.9408, Ext 111