Not everyone grows up with a fair shake. Anywhere—even in Southwest Florida—families can hit tumultuous times and children can fall victim to trauma or abuse.
Thankfully, there are organizations like Youth Haven, an emergency residential shelter for children ages 6 to 18, that meets these young people in the midst of their crisis and serve as a bridge to better days and a better life.
Youth Haven’s Director of Development Meredith Curley recently shared with Dreamscape Foundation the inside scoop on the organization’s mission and how they provide young people with basic necessities, developmental programs, love, and hope.
Curley is a woman who has seen the non-profit from both outside and within. Having just celebrated her 2 year anniversary with the company, her first experience with the organization began not as an employee, but as a volunteer.
“I was first introduced to Youth Haven through our current Executive Director, Jinx Liggett,” Curley said. “I came onboard to help with one of our major annual fundraisers, but when you come out to this campus and you see what’s here and what the direct impact is on the kids, you connect on a much different level than hearing about it from someone else.
“When Jinx was looking to expand the development team, she reached out to me to see if I would be interested in taking on a more permanent role. I jumped on the opportunity and didn’t look back.”
The Miracle of Youth Haven and How it Changes Lives
There is a reason why Curley never looked back. In front of her was a need that she couldn’t ignore. Youth Haven houses 73 beds on their campus for children who have been removed from their homes due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect.
“We are continually meeting the growing need in our community for transitional living for children who have nowhere else to turn,” Curley said. “One hundred percent of our children or teens have experienced some form of abuse in their lives, whether directly or indirectly. We’re really beginning the healing process here and providing the steps to get them into a state of healing and moving on, whether it’s with another organization or reuniting them with a family member.”
Upon arrival at Youth Haven, children and teens are immediately met by a safe environment where love, compassion, and resources are provided to help coax them toward a healthy life.
Youth Haven’s 3 Core Programs
The organization currently has 3 main programs that help these youth overcome their challenges and adapt:
The Child and Family Counseling Center
This center offers counseling services to both on-campus youth and to the public’s minor population, including counseling sessions with licensed professionals, 2 therapy dogs, cognitive behavior therapy, and various other trauma treatment programs offered in both English and Spanish.
The Residential and Emergency Shelter
Youth Haven’s Residential and Emergency Shelter consists of 4 cottages that houses youth between the ages of 6 and 18. This shelter includes a waking staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through day, evening, and overnight shifts.
The Homeless Teen and Transitional Living Program
This program is dedicated to 16 to 18 year old youth in order to help them plan for an independent life through various life skills programs, such as building a budget, writing checks, applying for college or benefits, renting an apartment, applying for jobs, practicing interviews, cooking, and more.
Striving for Healing, Normalcy, and a Healthy Future
There are multiple activities and programs available to the kids that are run by staff and volunteers. From physical activities to art programs, youth at the facility have the option to participate in healthy outlets for their emotions and creativity.
“It’s not just an emergency shelter,” Curley stressed. “We provide nutritional meals, clothing, lifeskills training and classes, intensive case management, therapy and counseling, yoga classes, art classes… We get the kids involved with the community through community events.”
And this only scratches the surface of what this amazing organization does for its youth. From various fundraisers to future plans for expanding their campus, adding more cottages, and even transitional housing and living, Youth Haven aims to set numerous disadvantaged youth on a path toward a prosperous life.
“We’re trying to provide these kids with the most normal and stable experience that we can,” Curley explained, “so they’re learning and growing while they’re healing, and being able to experience what kids should experience with the stability and all of the services they need to grow and heal.”
How You Can Make a Difference
Dreamscape Foundation is no stranger to struggle and disabilities. We’ve made it our duty to help provide tools and resources to individuals with disabilities in order to help them reach their educational, independence, and employment goals.
To us, Youth Haven’s mission is very similar, which is why we encourage you to reach out and be a part of this amazing organization through your time or your resources.
If you would like to get involved and make a difference in the lives of Southwest Florida’s youth, consider becoming a Youth Haven Volunteer or make a donation to help finance the daily operations, programs, and resources used to help improve the lives of these children.
If you’re a business who would like to host a fundraiser or donate your services to help disadvantaged youth, you may contact Meredith Curley directly by calling the office at (239)-687-5155.« PreviousNext »