Huck House gives guidance and support to the people in our community who need it most. Young people dealing with difficult and devastating situations who sincerely want to improve their lives—but have no one to show them how. We give these youth the direction they need to start making positive choices. And it often means the difference between a life of violence, abuse, and poverty, and a life that is productive, meaningful, and fulfilling.
Of course, we can’t do it alone. Huck House counts on the support of countless individuals and organizations that want to give young people a chance at a better life. Here’s a look at how your donation can help.
For more information about how your donation makes a difference in the lives of our youth, or to see our current list of donors, check out our latest annual report. You can also read some of our kid’s success stories to see how Huck House changes lives with your support.
Meet the young people you’ve helped.
If you are a Huck House supporter, or if you are considering giving or renewing your support, we invite you to get to know more about the youth you’re helping. Thanks to your generosity, every day, we can help young people in our community find the hope, encouragement, and motivation they need to work through serious adversity and get closer to the futures they want and deserve.
Fitting in and growing up can be difficult for any teenager. But for Adina, who was born in Somalia and came to our country when she was a young teen, the challenges were anything but typical. As a young child, Adina suffered tremendous trauma. She was abused then abandoned by her mother, and left with her father who was equally abusive and later incarcerated. Adina spent her childhood simply trying to survive while caring for her younger brother.
Fortunately, both Adina and her brother were adopted by a local family and brought to the States a few years ago. However, coping with her traumatic past while trying to adjust to a new family, a new country, and a new culture led to significant conflict with her adoptive parents. With guidance from the adoption agency, Adina’s parents brought her to the Crisis Shelter at Huckleberry House.
The Huck House Crisis Shelter counselors and staff recognized in Adina a sincere desire to improve her behavior. However, because of her past, Adina had no other choice but to become fiercely independent and self-supportive at a young age. It was difficult for her to give up some of this autonomy and accept the boundaries of her new family.
In addition, Adina was contending with some mental health issues that were making it difficult for her to control her behavior. She also took much of the blame for the family’s problems and harbored considerable guilt over her actions.
When Adina entered the Crisis Shelter, she set a goal to forgive herself for her contributions to the family’s problems and to learn to better cope with her emotions. Through one-on-one sessions and group participation, the Crisis Shelter staff worked with Adina on building healthy relationships and being aware of her feelings. During her five-day stay at the shelter, Adina worked toward letting go of her guilt and moving toward a better relationship with her adoptive family. Adina and her parents also participated in a family session where they discussed strategies for better understanding each others’ feelings and actions and for improving life at home.
Adina returned home with a new perspective on the family’s issues and a greater appreciation for her parents. The family now has new tools for addressing conflict and negative behaviors and for sharing and managing their feelings.
For Noah, it seemed every time his mom found a new boyfriend, Noah needed to find a new place to live. Noah’s mother had a track record of unhealthy and even abusive relationships. And if Noah voiced his concerns or took a stand, he found himself out of the house, time and again.
After being repeatedly put out, and running out of friends’ couches to sleep on, it became more and more difficult for Noah to make it to school and keep up with his school work. A previously good student, Noah’s teachers took notice of his frequent absences and slipping grades. The school referred Noah to the Transitional Living Program at Huckleberry House.
Huck House saw in Noah incredible determination to finish high school, earn his degree, and go on to pursue higher education. Despite his family troubles and unstable living conditions, Noah maintained contact with his school guidance counselors and tried to keep up with his assignments, even when he physically couldn’t be in the classroom.
When Noah faced setbacks and obstacles, he refused to be defeated. Noah never lost motivation to keep pushing forward toward his goals. When other people let him down, Noah simply renewed his commitment to himself and his vision for his future.
The Transitional Living Program provided Noah with a much-needed safe, and stable place to live, allowing him to concentrate on his school work and address the challenges in his life. His Independent Living Mentors and counselors worked closely with him to develop strategies for dealing with family conflict and to set realistic expectations for his relationships. At the same time, Noah’s mentors helped him pursue his educational goals. Noah graduated from high school, applied to and was accepted at a New York state college, and even earned a scholarship to help with tuition.
The TLP program also played a key role in helping Noah transition to life at his new college. When family members backed out of their promises to take Noah for a college visit, and then to help him move in to his new school, Huck House stepped in on both occasions to ensure Noah had support and transportation to make it to campus.
TLP staff also worked closely with the Student Affairs Office at Noah’s new school to identify programs to help him adjust to college life. Noah’s mentors assisted in developing a list of school necessities, and Huck House even provided gift cards so Noah could purchase what he needed during the college’s annual freshman shopping night at a local retailer.
Growing up, Monique never lived with her biological mom. Her mother struggled with substance abuse and maintaining a job, and she had five other younger children at home. So Monique lived with her grandfather, who maintained custody of Monique most of her life. Due to health issues, her grandfather had to enter a nursing home just a few months before Monique’s 18th birthday, and Monique found herself without a place to stay.
With limited options, she reluctantly went to stay with her mom. But the one-bedroom apartment was inadequate for the large family. As one of the oldest, Monique received the least support, but was expected to help out the most financially. When she didn’t or couldn’t contribute, mom’s boyfriend repeatedly kicked her out.
Monique’s frustration with her mother intensified, and Monique finally went to live with a friend. She had previous connections with Huckleberry House through the Youth Outreach Program, and through these connections, she was linked with the Family Counseling Program.
Monique’s counselor provided an ongoing source of support and consistency that had been lacking from Monique’s life. She learned how to process her feelings toward her mother, work on her own self esteem issues, and begin to develop a plan to support herself. Each week in her sessions, Monique developed new coping strategies for her anger, and in between sessions, she would practice her skills and write her feelings in her journal. She learned to change her expectations about her family as a source of support, and to begin relying on herself.
Monique began concentrating on her own future goals for employment and housing. She considered the Transitional Living Program, but with the help of her counselors, she found a more immediate opportunity via the Job Corps, a free education and training program that provides temporary housing along with job skills training and career assistance for disadvantaged youth.
Through the counseling she received at Huckleberry House and the connection to the Job Corps, Monique found the ongoing support she needed to set and achieve goals for her future. She gained confidence and independence and is currently working on her culinary arts certificate through the Job Corps program. She remains in contact with Huckleberry House and continues to receive the advice and support she needs to stick with her program and keep working toward the future she deserves.
Josh has dealt with a physical disability his entire life. Although he was receiving assistance from the government, he rarely benefited from the funds; his guardians would cash his checks and use his money for themselves. At 18, Josh found himself living in a men’s shelter. His girlfriend, Amanda, was expecting a baby. And neither of them had a place to live.
Having met the Youth Outreach case workers at a charter school event a year prior, Josh contacted Huckleberry House to see if the program could help him and his girlfriend establish themselves and prepare for their new family.
YOP staff worked closely with both Josh and Amanda to help these young people access the support available to them through the adult system while taking steps to set and reach their educational, employment, and housing goals. The YOP team helped Josh initiate the processes of changing the payee for his disability check so that the young couple could use the checks for their new family.
YOP also advocated on the couple’s behalf to help them secure an apartment and obtain furnishings. Both Josh and Amanda enrolled in charter school and earned their GEDs. And they both secured part time jobs.
For young people on the streets with no support, it can be overwhelming to know which steps to take to improve a situation and work toward self-sufficiency. The process is often so complex that young people without any experience or assistance are highly likely to fail. For Josh and Amanda, YOP played a critical role in showing the way and breaking down the process into manageable steps. With YOP’s help and advocacy, the couple went from living off the streets to making their own living today and doing the right things to support their young family.