Youth Moving On in Pasadena

4 Apr

This guest post is by Norma Fain Pratt, PhD, a fellow member of our Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group. She and I recently toured the Youth Moving On Peer Resource Center. Youth Moving On is a program of Hillsides, an organization dedicated to the well being of children and youth that is affiliated with the Episcopal Housing Alliance.

We were met by Aurelio Mitjans, Youth Advocate, to take Jill Shook and me, members of the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group, to have a look at the attractive and modern facility of Youth Moving On’s Peer Resource Center at 456 E. Orange Grove Blvd, suite 140 in Pasadena.

Articulate and informed, Aurelio described the functions of the Peer Resource Center as a “one-shop-stop” for centralized services and support for transition-age youth ages 16-25. Many of the participants, he noted, come from foster homes while some have been homeless or are recovering from drug abuse or serious domestic dysfunction.

The PR Center consists of a set of large rooms and offices with computers, a television set, desks, and a conference table. The young people were seated in groups engaged in lively discussions or individually, reading. The Youth Moving On program is multifaceted. Several of their training aspects include career counseling, on-site tutoring in academic and vocational subjects, mutual support groups, health and wellness seminars, and social and psychological therapy.

Privately financed, Youth Moving On resources are funded by Hillsides, with the support of the Everychild Foundation and other individual investors. To help achieve stability, the program also provides certain basic needs like food, clothing, hygiene products, and school supplies. They also provide internships, subsidized education/scholarships, and linkage to other support service providers.

Aurelio was especially proud of the housing programs developed by Youth Moving On.  There are two types of housing available: transitional and permanent. The permanent program is located in Los Angeles, but we got to see the transitional housing, consisting of 12 units embedded in a larger, 48-unit beautifully manicured apartment building on Oakland Avenue.

These twelve units provide 24 beds around the corner from the Peer Resource Center. The young occupants are carefully supervised and benefit from supportive advice and education, which assists them in learning individual strengths, community skills, and goals for success.

The Youth Moving On program has served more than 900 youth, and the Peer Resource Center has received more than 5,000 visits since its opening in April 2013. There have been many achievements for Youth Moving On participants.  Significant numbers have entered the workforce and have graduated from local community colleges, state universities, and even University of California schools.

Certainly, Youth Moving On is a Cadillac program – a model for any new youth programs to be developed nationwide.  Diverse in population, rich in program ideas, and well staffed while supportive of community participation and input, it is a vivacious institution that offers so much to homeless and displaced young people.

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