The CITY House R.I.S.E. Project
When City House recently had a need arise, they didn’t hesitate to reach out and ask if the Junior League of Collin County (JLCC) could help. Being a long-time partner of JLCC, they knew that we’d be able to help – especially since this need dovetailed with some of our existing projects – JuMP, HopeWorks and My Friend’s House.
City House asked if we would be willing to help teach life skills classes to the young adults in their Transitional Living Program (TLP). The residents of this program are 18 to 21 year-old men and women who have aged out of the foster care system and are working towards living independently, but need a hand learning necessary life skills. All the things our parents taught us about how to live as an adult – getting and keeping a job, living on a budget, getting an apartment, etc. – these young adults were never taught, and City House thought JLCC’s trained volunteers would be a great fit to help get them on the right track. What’s more, based on our experience with City House, we knew they’d be a great partner.
After much planning, R.I.S.E. (Reaching Independence and Success with Education) was born. There are currently 18 participants in the program and Life Skills is a mandatory requirement – along with maintaining employment and being drug free.
As R.I.S.E. began to take shape, the committee’s excitement grew. The idea of seeing quantifiable changes in someone’s life and being able to set them up for success really ignited their passion for this project. In fact, our committee was so excited about the project that one of our members, Lauren Carranza, requested RISE as her committee placement this year, she stated “While working on RISE behind the scenes and seeing this idea come to fruition I knew this was a project I had to be a part of. The young adults we work with at City House have overcome so much and it is so wonderful to see their drive and eagerness to become successful adults. Our role on the RISE committee is to empower these young people and give them tools to thrive but these young adults inspire us every single class.”
JLCC’s R.I.S.E team is only eight weeks into their weekly shifts and can see that they are meeting the needs of these young men and women who are starved for caring positive role models. Our volunteers share their wisdom for anywhere from a few weeks to 18 months (the TLP program limit). Each Life Skills lesson is invaluable for this at-risk population as they learn the how-to’s of survival they need to transition into thriving responsible adults!
“As soon as I saw this new project opportunity, I knew I wanted to be involved. I was thrilled to learn EVERY committee member also asked to be placed on R.I.S.E.!” said Sonja Baumgartner. “Our first adventure together was the kick-off party to meet the TLP staff and the teens, and as in true JLCC style, we planned a fun and interactive event – with plenty of food too. It was such a rewarding evening watching skeptical and reserved young adults transform into talkative and interested Life Skills participants. Since, then we’ve planned theme lessons on automobiles, apartments, etiquette and employment with each week getting better and better!”