You are now 18. You are on your own. Now foster care is over and you’ve been couch-surfing for awhile and recently you’ve had a little trouble with the law. No family. No job. No transportation. No bank account, not even a social security card. No hope.
Sadly, this is the story of many youth in transition across Ohio, and many of the youth that come to The Village Network. Typically, they are victims of abuse and neglect and exhibit many behavioral and emotional issues. They arrive broken with no real path to their next stage of life, that is adulthood.
The Village Network’s new Transitional Living Program was created to change all that.
“This program is exciting and it opens doors for our youth,” says, Melissa Reeves, a TVN Clinical Therapist.
The new program, part of the Wooster Residential Campus, focuses on integrating youth into the community and teaching them work and life skills, while also addressing their behavioral and mental state through clinical counseling. Youth take part in a residential setting and are provided transportation to a new work program in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Wayne & Holmes Counties.
Amber McVay, Case Manager at Goodwill says, “Many of our clients lack life skills, that you typically develop in a traditional home environment. Some kid’s have different pieces, but most are lacking the full set of life skills.”
Goodwill’s Community Training program is designed to teach youth, ages 14 to 25, life skills such as; basic budgeting, time management, interviewing, social interaction, anger management, and many other topics. Elden, a current TVN resident of the Transitional Living Program, is active in many of the courses, and also takes part in the Goodwill “factory” working part time. Elden works in assembly putting together various small projects for local manufacturers like Wooster Brush Company, Diebold and others.
McVay and her team have been working hard with Elden to help build his life skills, and help him transition to college. Elden was recently accepted to Hocking College and hopes to major in music management. After just finishing up the TVN boy’s basketball team season with a win, he also wishes to continue playing sports, but this time on the football field.
“I was inspired to go to college by my mom,” says Elden. “I’m excited to be bettering myself and learning more life skills.”
Elden and others like him are successfully transitioning from the program to college and finding jobs through the Goodwill partnership. They also leave The Village Network more balanced and able to deal with life stressors and emotional struggles.
David Hargrave runs the Transitional Living Program at The Village Network and serves as a Clinical Therapist to many of the youth in the program.
“The true success of this program is addressing a youth’s underlying issues, and integrating them into the community,” says Hargrave. He enjoys watching youth step out of their comfort zone, helping them grow in their life skills and be able to develop working relationships with others.
(Featured image above (l to r): David Hargrave, Amber McVay, Elden & Melissa Reeves.}