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After her family moved down South, Allison found herself on her own at the age of sixteen. Determined to finish out her education in Boston, the young woman stayed behind with no permanent place to stay. At the time, The Home was just opening a program, Roxbury Village, which provided housing to homeless young adults or those at-risk of being homeless. Unfortunately, the program had a waiting list of more than 150 young adults! Even though there was no housing support for Allison, she was directed to our Young Adult Resource Network (YARN) and was paired with a Life Coach, Shawanda.
Shawanda was just the support Allison needed as a senior in high school. Even with no permanent place to live, bouncing between classmates, extended family and friends’ homes, Allison graduated valedictorian of her class. With support from The Home and Shawanda, Allison was accepted and enrolled at Pine Manor, a liberal arts college in Brookline. “I’ve never even known anyone that went to college,” Allison shared. Shawanda took Allison shopping for her dorm room and helped move her into the tree-lined campus. Before Shawanda left she made a promise to the college freshman: “I will support you all the way through.”
“You can’t make excuses for yourself,” Allison noted when asked about her achievement.
Allison thrived at Pine Manor. She majored in Psychology, performed community volunteer projects, worked at Starbucks, and made new friends. Everything was going well until the cost of college became too much. Overwhelmed and facing homelessness yet again, she reached out to Shawanda for guidance. Being Allison’s life coach for three years, Shawanda knew how driven this young woman was regarding her education. The Life Coach quickly made a call and there was an opening at Roxbury Village. Allison moved out of her dorm and into one of the three apartments at Roxbury Village, which she shared with two other young women.
This crisis may have discouraged many other young adults, but not Allison. Education remained her priority; she completed an internship at a domestic violence shelter and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in May. “You can’t make excuses for yourself,” Allison noted when asked about her achievement.
Since graduation, Allison has moved on from Roxbury Village. Just recently, she checked in with staff from The Home and shared that she is living on her own and has found employment as an office manager. As a whole, The Home is so proud of Allison and her accomplishments. We will always be here as a support system and safety net as Allison pursues her dreams.
Photo: Allison (middle right) and Luis (far left), both young adults thriving at Roxbury Village, were recipients of the Sabino Marinella Award at The Home's Voices & Visions fundraiser in May. Here they are pictured with their life coaches, Garland and Shawanda.
Summer is winding down and the children served by The Home are starting to gear up for another new school year. We were lucky to be able to provide camp opportunities for many children in our residential care and field trips to locations throughout Massachusetts for families in our community-based programs.
Children deserve a break to grow and learn outside of the classroom. But that break is often stressful for the families we work with as they struggle to find quality child care, provide educational opportunities, and keep children safe. Safety was at the forefront of our staff’s minds as Boston neighborhoods experienced a particularly violent summer with gun violence up 30% from last July. Repeated exposure to community violence is a toxic stress that can be traumatizing to children and inhibit their brain development. The Home and our Center for Early Childhood recognizes the importance of social and emotional learning in young children and the long term impact of trauma.
The Training Institute, a program in our Center for Early Childhood, coaches and trains early educators and day care providers to combat toxic stress through trauma-informed techniques. Throughout the summer, we have been training staff at Head Start programs throughout Boston. Our trainings will help teachers to better manage their new students in the classroom who are exhibiting challenging behaviors and assist in building a strong foundation for social and emotional learning. We are so proud to have launched this new program this past year and are looking forward to seeing it grow, along with the other programs that constitute the Center for Early Childhood.
Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D.
The Boston-Suffolk County Family Resource Center hosted a trip to Cape Cod in June! With families and kids ranging from eighteen months to seventy years old, the group embarked on their trip to the ocean. In the morning, the adventure began with a nature tour at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid, MA. Families spent time walking through the tide pools on the beaches where they could see and touch sea creatures! From there, the group boarded a pirate ship and got into costume. The boat ride was filled with excitement, and they even got to soak a pirate with water cannons. Cape Cod is often inaccessible to the children and families we serve, so this trip was a chance to broaden their horizons by showing them a new part of Massachusetts. The adventure fostered happy memories which can help families stay close during difficult times.
Summer is the perfect time for kids to have fun! Our Therapeutic After School Program, TASP, hosts a variety of summer camp opportunities for children whose behavior and mental health diagnosis excludes them from participating in traditional summer programs. This July, we kicked off the summer fun with a beautiful day of swimming and relaxing by the pool at one of Boston DCR’s recreation centers. Children were able to soak in the sun and finished the day off by sharing tips on how to enjoy a safe 4th of July. TASP hosted a trip to the Arnold Arboretum where our staff led a meditation and relaxation circle. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the peace and calm of nature. The first week of summer finished up with a movie at Legacy Place. We are thrilled to be able to provide a summer camp experience to children who are struggling with their behavior and often feel as if they don’t fit in at traditional social and educational settings.
Thirty kids from The Home’s residential and group homes had a day to remember thanks to our friends at Natixis Global Asset Management. Children ages 5 to 14 had a blast learning Boston history on a Duck Tour. Each child even got to drive the boat in the Charles River! After the tour, Natixis employees brought boxed lunches to the kids and staff for a picnic in the Public Gardens. It was a great ending to a beautiful day! Thank you Natixis for being such a great and longtime corporate partner.
Making the transition into the real world from childhood to adulthood can be tough for any young person, and one can only imagine how difficult it may be for someone with no family ties or support system. The Home for Little Wanderers has launched a new program in Somerville, MA, known as Somerville Village: Support for Higher Education which will serve 15 at-risk young women who are aging out of the system and want to pursue higher education. Comfortable, convenient housing will be provided as well as weekly visits with Life Coaches. The ultimate goal of Somerville Village is to support young women while they complete a 2-4 year degree within 6 years and to provide information about post-college career opportunities, financial aid application assistance, and connections with adult role models.
Education is the key to success. The Home aims to help women unlock the door to opportunity by providing housing, emotional, and educational support through this new program.
The Home for Little Wanderers is excited to announce the launch of its new young professionals group, Next Generation for The Home! NxG is a group dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of at-risk youth and their families. Their engagement brings our vital mission of serving the children and families in Massachusetts to light through networking, social events, volunteering opportunities, and team-based fundraising opportunities. While seeking to develop the next generation of The Home’s supporters, NxG also aspires to foster the growth of our members and integrate each individual’s skill sets, interests, and perspectives.
This past year, NxG supported Th eHome directly at some of our events and programs. Team members fundraised for the 2016 Spartan Race at Fenway Park, participated as sponsors in Voices & Visions this May, volunteered for our Big Wishes Gift Drive, and helped out at our Roslindale site’s Wellness Day featuring a smoothie station and outdoor games for kids!
NxG is looking forward to a kick-off party on September 13th at Revere Rooftop! Visit thehome.org/nxg to see photos, upcoming events, meet our board, and sign up to become a member!
Photo: NxG Board Members Adam Benjamin, Paige Oldaker, and Hambisa Goso.