Youth Unlimited needs funds to get their YU-Turn Housing project off the ground.
Char Lockhart, YU-Turn housing coordinator said that currently funds are the only thing stalling the project.
“We would love to have it done yesterday,” said Lockhart. “We would love within the next six to eight months to have funding in place to develop this. To really get this off the ground.”
However, Youth Unlimited is looking for more than just sponsorship money. It is also looking for individuals who are interested and invested in the community and this project to partner with.
“We will not be able to run this program without community involvement.”
Lockhart added this notion is a bit daunting, but it is also very exciting. She said that getting the community involved in the program makes the community stronger, the program stronger and the individuals who go through the program stronger.
“It builds community on so many levels,” she said.
YU-Turn is a supportive independence housing project from Youth Unlimited. Lockhart said that, ideally, the project would see a large duplex built in the community that would have space for five beds for young people in the program to use in each unit. In addition, each of the two units in the duplex would also have permanent ‘house parents’ who live in the unit and work with those going through the program.
The YU-Turn Housing project is much more to Youth Unlimited than just a building for people to live in though. It is a program that teaches life skills and gives people the know-how to become fully independent.
Basically the program is aimed at young people who want to become productive members of society, but don’t have the resources to accomplish that themselves, said Lockhart.
She added that the program is designed to address the whole person and is tailored to each individual.
When someone enters the program, they will be assessed to determine which skills they need to develop. Youth workers will then collaborate with the individual’s social worker, guardian or parent to personalize the program for that person. Once the program is designed, youth workers work with the individual to complete it.
As to what that program entails, Lockhart said it can be things as simple as learning the importance of bathing and suitable hygiene or building a resume. It will also teach concepts like responsibility and why those are important.
These may seem like simple tasks and ideas to many people, but Lockhart said that many of the individuals who would use the program have been so deprived of resources and support that they have never learned the basics. They don’t know how to do something as simple as how to cook or do laundry, or why those things are important.
The program is open to young people between the ages of 16 and 22. It is available to anyone who thinks they can make use of the program, but specifically targeted towards at-risk individuals.
“There is really no limitation other than their desire to participate.”
Lockhart said that ‘at-risk’ is a term that can be difficult to define. She added Youth Unlimited defines at-risk as anyone who is in danger of becoming involved, or has already been involved in cycles of addiction, poverty and/or abuse and don’t already have the resources or people in their lives who can support and help them through those challenges.
Therefore, YU-Turn Housing will cater to a wide range of individuals, said Lockhart. From kids escaping abusive families, to young adults exiting a foster home, to children who are couch surfing, to young adults learning how to support themselves and get a job.
Most likely, young people who enter into the volunteer program with be with YU-Turn Housing between four and 18 months, said Lockhart. However, there is potential for some to be there for up to four years, depending on how they progress through the program.