OHIO VALLEY — Sojourners Care Network, an asset-based youth development organization serving families, children and young adults in Southeast Appalachian Ohio, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the announcement of three new federal grants.
“Over the last twenty years we’ve been proud to provide a wide array of services to disconnected and homeless youth and families, including foster care, adoption, runaway and homeless youth services and housing, employment training, diploma and GED support, mentoring, leadership training, and service learning opportunities”, said Richard Games co-founder and co-executive director of Sojourners Care Network. “These new grants are allowing us to expand these services and better serve young people in our region in the years to come”.
The funding is aimed to meet the individual needs of young people and young families. Each grant is unique, allowing Sojourners to serve children under the age of 18 as well as serving young adults under the age of 25. Varying services will be carried out, based on funding, for those living in Athens, Gallia, Meigs, Jackson, Vinton, Hocking and Ross counties.
Youthbuild of Southeast Ohio
A new three-year $1,100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor allows Sojourners, after a several years hiatus, to provide a Youthbuild of Southeast Ohio program to youth ages 16 to 24. The program will be headquartered in two sites: Mt. Logan in Chillicothe, Ohio and the Sojourners Family Center in McArthur, Ohio. Southeast Testament of Columbus and Chillicothe City Schools help to make these sites a possibility.
Youthbuild participants will work toward their high school diploma or GED. High school education will be provided to Youthbuild by Goal Digital Academy as well as alternative education programs at Chillicothe City Schools and Vinton County High School. Upon completion of a high school diploma or GED, participants will be assisted in attending college or industrial certification programs.
Participants will earn a basic construction credential using a National Center for Construction Education and Resources (NCCER) standardized curriculum. Construction skills will be applied in the rehabilitation of two homes in partnership with Frontier Community Development and Vinton County Housing Corporation. A credential will also be offered in STNA- Nurse Aide. Recruitment efforts are occurring now and the first cohort of participants begins on June 17th.
Transitional Living Program
Sojourner Care Network’s transitional services to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness is being augmented through a $200,000 Transitional Living Program grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Children and Families. The Transitional Living Program provides shared and independent housing, life skills development, educational services, employment preparation, and physical/mental health care to at least 60 enrolled participants over a three-year period. The shared housing site is located in McArthur, Ohio and was recently dedicated in the memory of a long time Sojourners employee, Shelia Turn. Scattered-site apartments will be made available in the region, and a network of host homes will be gene rated to create options to promote youth choice.
Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program
In 2016, a team of service providers led by the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio (COHHIO), including Integrated Services for Behavioral Health and Sojourners, came together to develop a coordinated community response to end youth homelessness. The team was awarded $2.1 million dollars as part of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, a federal initiative by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The coordinated community plan for Athens, Gallia, Meigs, Jackson, and Vinton counties guides the region’s efforts to end youth homelessness over the next two years.
As a member of this initiative, Sojourners Care Network has received a $994,748 grant to provide services to youth and young families experiencing homelessness in the following areas:
Sojourners is providing community outreach to young people and young families at risk of or experiencing unsheltered homelessness, through the Sojourners Crisis Response Outreach team. The team canvases the community and works with partners to locate and serve those in need.
Through the Crisis Transitional Housing project, Sojourners provides emergency shelter to young adults and young families in scattered site shelters throughout the region. Sojourners’ Supportive Services Coordinators provide case management to those in shelter. Case management services are tailored to assist those in shelter to reach permanent housing goals as quickly as possible. Permanent housing includes all possible options such as Integrated
Services for Behavioral Health’s YHDP specific Rapid Re-Housing program. This program is a long-term housing option for youth experiencing homelessness.
Sojourners and its collaborative partners have worked tirelessly to calculate the needs and statistics in the communities and draft grants to the begin to meet those needs. “We are so grateful to be awarded these resources”, said Marcus Games, co-founder and co-executive director of Sojourners Care Network. “But what we have learned is that with big ideas comes gaps that cannot be paid with grant dollars. We never have enough food for our shelters, gas for our outreach vehicles or beds for our young people. We hope that people who recognize the value of our service to youth will want to become partners in our efforts and consider helping us by making a donation or volunteering”, Games concluded.
For more information about Sojourners Care Network, or to assist them in their services to youth in Appalachian Ohio, contact the organization at (740) 597-1117, www.sojournerscare.net, or follow on Facebook.
Information provided by Sojourners Care Network.