Youth Empowerment Supports (YES) is the program being offered to homeless youth housed on our second floor. We now have the capacity to house 12 youth permanently. This provides us with the unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the homeless youth in our community. We plan to offer our new guests much of the successful above described programming as well as YES specific opportunities. Some of these opportunities will include Case Management, Youth Navigation, Pathways to Opportunity and Rent Smart.
In addition, space has been included on the second floor to operate a Prevocational Retail Sales Program. The Youth Empowerment Store offers opportunities for our guests to gain valuable retail, customer service, financial, inventory, marketing experience, and provide a method of distributing donations to our Youth and Shelter guests. We also plan to incorporate a Young Adult Committee comprised of our guests to manage second floor policies and issues as well as to get involved in the community.
Our first move-in was a polite and good humored young man in his mid-twenties. After getting evicted from his apartment, he came to the shelter. With the addition of MMHS’s second floor youth apartments, the young man was able to have a place of his own. When asked if the shelter has been a good resource for him, the young man replied:
“[MMHS] has helped me, because if I did not take classes I don’t think I would be here like I am now. It has changed me a lot and I am thankful for that.”
The young man is currently looking for paid and volunteer jobs. The staff recognizes and is proud of all of the hard work he has done to develop the skills he needs to be successful outside of the shelter. We look forward to seeing him grow and succeed this year.
Our second move-in was a young woman in her late teens. She had spent her childhood in the foster care system, but had to find new housing when she turned 18. She was provided housing by the college she was attending, until she decided to withdraw. The young woman found herself homeless when she was abruptly kicked out by her foster parents who were not equipped to assist her after a mental health crisis. She says:
“[MMHS] has given me a stable place to live with a lot of support I didn’t have before and I am extremely thankful for that. [The] staff at MMHS has helped me find the motivation I once recently lost.”
She is now getting back to college and has applied to University of Maine in Augusta. Her current goals are finding a job and working on her mental health so she can better manage the demands of work and school. This young woman brightens up a room with her smiles and positive and persevering attitude. We are grateful to have the opportunity to watch her succeed every step of the way.