Part five of six: Youth Outreach Program (YOP)

Our community can expect diligence in finding the young people that need our help most.

One of the things that young people in crisis almost always lack is support and direction from a trusted adult. As a result, they don’t always know that help exists, or where to find it. The Huckleberry House Youth Outreach Program has worked from day one to break down that barrier by taking our services directly to the streets and helping young people connect with resources and supports that can help them address their challenges and gain self-sufficiency. In 2016, we added the YOP Shop to provide youth with easy access to our Youth Outreach Workers.

Meet Destiny, A former Youth Outreach Program Client

When Destiny learned she was pregnant, she left her home in Georgia and came to Columbus, where her baby’s father had promised that he and his family would help care for her. Two weeks later, dad left town. And Destiny found herself expecting, alone, and in a new city with nowhere to live. Determined to do what was best for her unborn baby and herself, she connected with local resources and eventually found her way to the YOP Shop.

“Losing hope and becoming depressed was never an option for me,” she says. “I’ve always lived my life thinking about the next step and doing what I need to do.”

Fortunately, the YOP program was there to make that next step easier. YOP case workers helped Destiny access the supplies she would need to be ready for her daughter’s birth and helped make sure she and her baby had a safe place to stay. Then, when Destiny temporarily lost custody of her newborn daughter, her YOP case workers helped her connect with a counselor and parenting mentor at Huck House and provided support while she worked to resolve her housing and employment challenges.  Destiny successfully completed her parenting plan and was quickly reunited with her daughter.

Today Destiny and her daughter are doing well in their own apartment. Destiny continues to meet with her Huck House counselor and parenting mentor from time to time and appreciates that she has a support system and a trusted place to turn when she has questions or needs advice.

“We just moved into our new place and had the utilities turned on,” she says. “It’s the first time I’ve done anything like that on my own. And it felt great.”

Right now, Destiny is focused on her own mental health and trying not to be hard on herself when life doesn’t go exactly according to plan. Connecting with case workers whom she trusts has made a big difference in her journey. “Either way, I would have done what I needed to do. But they’ve made things
a lot easier. And it’s nice having someone who really cares about you and you know you can turn to for advice,” she says. “I’m a strong person. But they’ve showed me it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.”

Destiny is committed to helping other youth facing similar struggles. She participates on the Youth Action Board through the Community Shelter Board. Through her actions and hard work every day, she is proof that circumstances don’t have to dictate your life. With the right attitude and a little support,  young people can create the futures they desire.

To learn about the expectations and results of Huck House’s programs, check out the 2019 Annual Report. 

Up next, part six: Huckleberry House Supporters
In our next message, you will meet Rebecca, a devoted Huck House volunteer