Friday, October 31st, 2014

Faces project: Young Adult Transitional Housing Program — Pinellas

The Young Adult Transitional Housing Program — Pinellas provides eight young adults, ages 18-21, who have aged out of the foster care system, with transitional housing for 12-18 months. The program also provides a life coach who assists these young adults with gaining independence and developing life skills.

April & Falana

It is hard to be alone.

Some people must learn independence at an early age and they must care for themselves. In the case of these two young women, loneliness had to be fought against, friendships had to be made, and families had to be created, all from scratch—none were provided from the beginning. These women are part of the Young Adult Transitional Housing Program. Through their experience in the program and with the guidance of a life coach, both of these extraordinary women have turned a painful past into strength, growth, and a new life on their own.

April was born in a prison. She went to live with her paternal grandmother and two of her siblings. April was eventually placed in foster care. She never found a permanent family and struggled with her loneliness, anger, and involvement with juvenile justice. When she aged out of foster care, April was enrolled in the Young Adult Transitional Housing Program. That was when it all turned around.

“April is the most strong-willed person I’ve ever met in my life,” said her life coach. In the first six months of the program, April got her first car and began her second semester of college, and got a job. She has tempered all of the negative influences from her past into positive ones.

April has since graduated from the program and has chosen to become a mentor. She even holds the same job she had while she was in the program. What is most remarkable about April is her fervent passion for helping others. She has become a speaker and has given talks to the Juvenile Welfare Board, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Florida Department of Education. April wants to continue her studies, become a social worker or public administrator. She is living proof that people can choose their own way and leave their past behind. She has created her own circumstances, morals, and values to live by and is, beyond a doubt, bound for great things.

Falana was placed into the foster care system when she was only eight years old. As a child, Falana moved from school to school and missed many days of class. Education was not a priority, but while she was in the program, Falana achieved a milestone. She became the first person in her entire extended family to graduate from high school. Her options now include studying cosmetology, dental assistance, culinary arts or general studies at the local college.

Falana’s life coach admits it was hard at first. Falana was

stubborn and closed herself off from help. Now, her coach says, “she has developed into a confident, reliable, respectful young woman.” There is unmistakable pride in the life coach’s voice. Like April, Falana is also a speaker, and shares the story of her struggles and conquests.

The two girls established a close friendship in the program. In this picture you can feel their closeness and friendship. They have built a family out of this environment, and though they were never adopted, they have a transitional family rooting for them.

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