YOUNG ADULT PROGRAM / S.T.A.R.T.
John was referred to the Start Program by his high school guidance counselor. He had been repeatedly abandoned by his mother for weeks at a time, and then he moved in with his grandmother only to get kicked out. This young man was able to still graduate from high school and follow through with the requirements to get into the Start Program.
After entering into the Start Program, he began going to college and was accepted into the Honor’s Program. Not only is he doing very well in school and maintaining his grades, but he has maintained his employment. John has also continued to follow through with all the requirements of the program, attending groups, case management sessions and special events without ever being late. He keeps his apartment clean and does all the other independent living skills of daily life. He also has been able to develop some very healthy relationships and been able to let go of past ones which were unhealthy. John does all of this and has a positive outlook on life.
Alicia: Okay, remember yourself at 16. What were you doing? You were probably going to high school, doing huge amounts of homework, maybe participating in school groups or activities, and struggling through the trials of adolescence. Now, add parenting a two-year old child into the mix of your activities. That is where Alicia* found herself, except that she had to drop out of high school at 16 to take care of her son. And she had no where to turn.
Alicia was referred to Tumbleweed’s Young Adult Program (YAP) by the Scottsdale Police Department. Because she was 16 years old and homeless, she qualified for a bed at YAP and began a new lifestyle that included structure, supervision, and guidance. And it was hard to handle. She wasn’t used to having to account for herself to adults that care and really struggled with this new concept. Eventually, Alicia left the program and struck out on her own again.
Shortly thereafter Alicia again needed help and contacted our START program. START, an acronym for Supported Transitional Apartment, Resources and Training, which helps young adults gain independence through living expense subsidy and case management. When she entered START, Alicia met with a case manager to set up an action plan. Before she could enter the program she had to get a job and obtain day care for her child. Once she completed those objectives, her case manager would help her find an apartment. This time Alicia was ready to take care of business and she has flourished.
“Tumbleweed is full of people that believe in me,” said Alicia. She completed her plan and got an apartment. START is now subsidizing her rent and other living expenses until she can take care of those expenses on her own. Her case manager also helped her sign up for health care while helping her investigate and pursue career & educational goals.
Alicia obtained her G.E.D., attends parenting classes, plays the guitar, and attends community college and works part-time. Her future plans include obtaining her degree in Psychology, traveling, and buying a mansion. Alicia knows she will make something of her life, and feels she and her son are leading a less dangerous life.
Pam’s Tumbleweed family.
This time last year, all Pam knew was she wanted to go to college. She knew that she loved school and that she wanted to make something of herself. What Pam didn’t know was where she would be sleeping at night.
When Pam was only 15, her family lost everything. Her mother, who has a history of long time drug abuse, lost her house and all of her possessions. Not having anywhere to turn, Pam and her mom moved in with some friends. Pam would spend weekends with various schoolmates and then move from friend to friend with her mother.
Eventually, her mother was admitted into a halfway house, so Pam was forced to survive alone. Pam was able to find work at fast food restaurants, like Taco Bell, but she still had to rely on the charity of friends to help her along. Throughout this ordeal, she still attended school faithfully. After school activities such as JROTC and National Honor Society provided a refuge from the bleak existence she was enduring at home.
Finally came the day when Pam’s options were running out. She had no more friends to stay with and no support system here in town. Her three older sisters had all moved to Florida and could not support her. Her only aid coming from school, she confided her problems to one of her teachers, with the hope of making a change.
It was her teacher who gave her the number for Tumbleweed’s Young Adult Program. Pam moved into the program in August and her life changed right away. Having some stability, she adjusted to her new life right away, leaving at four thirty in the morning to make it to her first class. She remained involved in the school newspaper and other extracurricular programs and would not return home until late in the evening. Despite her busy schedule, Pam still made time to meet with her counselors and case managers and hang out with her friends.
Despite all of her setbacks, or perhaps because of them, Pam continues to be a light in the dark. She has always been very driven with her goals and strives to accomplish them with a sparkling personality. She has been accepted to Arizona State University and is working with her case manager to get a ROTC scholarship.