Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Close to Home

 A lot of the Trusted Mentor stories are emotional, but this particular one is personal.

About 8 years ago, I started working in an urban community where I have eventually settled in as a homeowner. The agency I worked for, and am still connected to, equips and empowers low-income families as they pursue their dreams of first-time homeownership.

One of my first families was a single mother named Julie (not real name), with two teen children. Julie had recently completed a program in administration at Training Inc. and was fortunate enough to land a nice-paying job immediately following graduation. Julie had paid off her debt, began saving, and came to our agency ready to become a homeowner. She was so excited to build a legacy for her family by having something to pass on to her children. This accomplishment was especially sweet as Julie had grown up in the foster care system and had lived in multiple shelters and group homes, experiencing an unstable childhood--to say the least.

Over a year ago, Julie’s house burned down while the family was away on Thanksgiving break. The family returned home only to find a charred shell of a house. By this time, Julie had lost her nice-paying job and was unemployed. The tragedy of losing a home was too much to bear, so the family decided to start over in another state.

About a month ago, I received a phone call from Julie, indicating that her daughter, Camille, who recently turned 18, had decided to move back to Indianapolis to reunite with friends and her network of support. Her goal was to enroll into a local older teen/ young adult transitional home, go to school and start her career. Unfortunately, things have not worked out as orderly as she planned. Camille called me soon after arriving in Indy with a frightening plight. The family that she had planned to stay with lost their housing and she would soon be homeless in February. Since she didn’t have the necessary ID (many homeless folks don’t), she had to seek help from an agency who sent off for paperwork…a 3 week or more wait ensued. In the meantime, she’s been staying in a homeless women’s shelter and has already started working on her GED.

As she waits for her ID so that she can enroll into the homeless transitional housing, a more stable environment, she tries daily to keep her spirits up. While working with a partner agency to coordinate services for her, the young case manager has indicated to me that the most important thing we can do now is surround Camille with a network of support. I talked to her about matching Camille with a Trusted Mentor and she jumped at the opportunity, stating that one thing that makes a difference for these young adults trying to make it is positive adult support.

So, the three of us have set a lunch date to cheerlead Camille. I am happy that she will also be our newest mentee awaiting a Trusted Mentor to develop a meaningful relationship of support. I will stay involved in Camille’s life for some time to come, and I look forward to adding a mentor to her support network. Please consider becoming a mentor to encourage folks like Camille.