IMG_3364

 

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Jhanel McCray.

Jhanel left a violent relationship with her child’s father and has been raising her 2 year old daughter on her own with very little help from friends or family. Jhanel set out to utilize Huck House’s Transitional Living Program to get financially stable, graduate high school, find stable employment and housing while mastering independent living skills so she can live on her own successfully.

Jhanel has made great strides towards her goals. She recently graduated from the Academy for Urban Scholars. She has been steadily employed and has been able to save money to buy a car and increase her savings. Jhanel values employment. Recently, when leaving one job for another, she respectfully gave two weeks’ notice, knowing how important it is to maintain a reputation as a good employee.

Jhanel is positive, outgoing, motivated, hardworking, and a leader amongst her peers. Jhanel hopes to move to her own apartment in the next few months. There is no doubt that Jhanel will continue being successful and will reach whatever goal she sets for herself.

IMG_3368

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Precious Brandon.

Precious became homeless at 17-years-old and was referred to Huck House by her high school teacher. A week after her 18th birthday, Precious moved into her TLP apartment. Before coming to TLP, Precious wanted to give up. She worried daily about where she would sleep at night and didn’t have anyone to talk to about her situation. Since entering the program, she has showed tremendous gratitude, motivation and hard work.

One of her favorite parts about the program is having someone to talk to every week. Hope Brill, who nominated her and meets with her weekly, describes Precious as honest and dedicated to her goals. Precious wants to graduate high school, then attend college, so that she can start a career. She says for anyone struggling with homelessness, the most important thing is to stay focused, “because when you lose your focus, you lose yourself.”

IMG_3361

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Delores Caine.

Delores has survived many challenges in her life. She describes her childhood as “rocky,” explaining that she was raised by her grandmother due to family issues and her father’s violent death. Trauma, poverty, addiction, legal troubles, and family conflict have strongly impacted Delores’ family since she was very young. She shares that her primary goal is to create a better, more stable childhood for her children than she had herself.

Delores’ path to Huck House’s Transitional Living Program included living on the streets. Delores describes sleeping at bus stops and just hoping people would leave her alone when she was asleep. She was always aware of signs telling her life would get better. The kindness of others has always been a sign for her. Delores’ own kindness and thoughtfulness are some of her core qualities and are evident in her interactions with her family, peers in the program, and staff members. She even took the time to write notes to her support team thanking them for believing in her.

IMG_3369

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Rafael Castro.

Soon to be the first in his family to graduate high school, Rafael is a hard-working young man who has had to rely on self-motivation to get him through school. He has emerged as a leader in the Be The One program at Walnut Ridge High School, he holds a part time job, and he plays soccer year-round. Soccer has become central to Rafael’s life and he applies the lessons he learned on the field to his everyday life. He values teamwork, mental-toughness and helping others. After graduation, he hopes to go to college and play soccer. Beyond college, Rafael wants to return to his native country, El Salvador, to build a soccer field for underprivileged children.

At only eighteen, Rafael is already giving back to his community, he says, “If I can use these two hands to help pass out food, I’ll do it.” He has a mature outlook on helping others and hopes adults and other youth will look around them and realize ways to help their community. Rafael deserves recognition for his resiliency and compassion in a world of political uncertainty for immigrants.

IMG_3360

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Chyla Larry.

Chyla came to Huck House due to problems with her relationship with her mother. She describes her past behavior as “aggressive” due to stress with family and school. When she first came to Huck House, she struggled with communication, but she has improved tremendously. “I talk a lot now,” Chyla says with a chuckle. One of her proudest accomplishments is that she can have conversations with people. She attributes this to her personal growth and now having a lot more confidence in herself. Chyla is also proud of her improvement with her behavioral management.

Since she has been at her new school, Chyla has managed to control her anger and stay out of trouble. She is very thankful to her grandfather for being a major part of her support system. Chyla says her naysayers motivate her and fuel her to achieve her goals. She plans to attend college to become a social worker.

IMG_3366

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Madi Fant.

Madi moved out of her mother’s house and into her grandmother’s at 15 years old. This transition was not easy. She was sleeping on the floor in the living room and things were going poorly. She fell behind in school and was unable to graduate on time. Madi came to Huck House through her own determination. Madi describes Huck House as “almost too good to be true,” and she is extremely thankful that her hard work is being noticed and commended. Her proudest accomplishment thus far is graduating from high school in December 2017, just six months after her original graduation date. Madi is also proud that she has held a steady job for over a year. In the long-term, Madi wants to help people and eventually write a book.

IMG_3363

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Jania Perry.

After a childhood in foster care and being adopted at 14, Jania came from Rhode Island to Ohio when she turned 18 because her biological mother lived here. “Don’t underestimate me!” is the motto that guides Jania through life. If you do underestimate her, she will do what it takes to prove you wrong. She is a hard worker and has maintained employment while in Huck House’s Transitional Living Program. One of her goals is to pay off loans.

Her strength and determination are especially evident when it comes to her young daughter. Jania is committed to being the best parent she can be and boldly states that her daughter comes before everything. Jania left an abusive relationship to keep her daughter safe. She diligently applies what she learns from her parenting lessons. She says that the most important thing she has learned from her parent mentor is that it’s okay to let babies cry. As hard as it was, she knew she had to move her daughter to her own room. And that meant listening to some crying. When Jania is with her daughter, Huck House staff observe that she is incredibly attentive and always teaching new things. With a little giggle, Jania will tell you, “I’ve learned that kids are funny!”

IMG_3358

Meet Huck House Youth Award Winner, Aja Bolden.

Aja came to TLP in May 2017 determined to create a better life for herself and her unborn baby. Before TLP, Aja lived in the Van Buren family shelter. She survived a high risk pregnancy and gave birth to a premature baby boy after seven months of pregnancy. Her son gives her focus and keeps her determined to achieve her goals. While the baby was still in the hospital, Aja enrolled in the pharmacy technician program at Columbus State. After receiving her pharmacy tech certificate, Aja would like to pursue a degree in marketing. Her hard work at both TLP and Columbus State offered Aja the opportunity to apply for and earn the Huckleberry House McNamara Scholarship. Aja would like to start a program for middle school girls helping them recognize and avoid abusive relationships.

Shoes and arrow

2018 Huck House Youth Awards

HHYA 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please join us for the 21st annual Huck House Youth Awards Dinner. Tickets may be purchased at www.huckhouseawards.eventbrite.com or by emailing development director Sonya Thesing at sthesing@huck-house.org.

This year we are honoring 14 award winners from three different organizations. Please visit the blog during the weeks of April 9 and 16 to meet the winners!

 

 

march-for-our-lives-washington031

Positive Youth Development on a National Scale

180324-march-for-our-lives-washington-ew-551p_5b44929fced2f3b72d9fa89c63c5cf43.focal-1000x500

 

by Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director

At Huck House we have a couple of concepts that drive our work, but the one that drives all of our work is Positive Youth Development.  This approach says that what we say to youth is not as effective as what we do with youth.  We know that experience is a tough and persistent teacher so we work hard to make sure its lessons support traits and skills that will be a positive influence for teens.  We think about the unique qualities and skills of each youth as an opportunity to nurture characteristics that will be life-long assets.  We know that the best way to accomplish this development is within positive, supportive adult and community relationships.

We are currently witnessing Positive Youth Development on a national scale, and I am thrilled to be here in this moment.  The thousands of participating youth and supporting adults have created a spectacle of adolescent development at its very best.

People often ask me, “what can we do about all of these young people who are problems?”  Let’s take our lessons from the March For Our Lives.  First listen without the patronizing filter of knowing what’s best.  If we let go of our adult expertise, we just might learn something.  Next, ask what they need and want from us.  Maybe that means buying the pizza after the meeting instead of running the show.  Finally, don’t lose sight of the point.  Our task is to help the young people in our lives become their best selves – even if that means letting them come to a different conclusion.  In the end we will all be better for it.