“Counting the Costs . . .
The ULTIMATE Return on Investment”
Stepping out of adolescence into young adulthood brings about its own set of challenges, fears and frustrations, even for the most stable of youth coming from supportive, healthy and intact families. When youth are displaced from family and the effects of trauma experienced from abuse and/or neglect take their toll, the normal difficulties associated with transitioning to adulthood are significantly amplified. It’s been a tremendous blessing to watch several young men and ladies who have experienced significant trauma and life obstacles with little to no support slowly begin to THRIVE! Relationships have been kindled and forged, trust has been built, confidence has developed, and hope has been restored.
This past November, OC United celebrated the 1 year anniversary of its THRIVE home and support program for former foster and at-risk young adults. The young men’s home began with one youth and a resident mentor. Both were joined 3 months later by two more young men, and 6 months later by another 3 and an additional in-house mentor, bringing the resident total to 8. Since initial resources were unavailable to also launch an independent residence for young ladies, a generous partner family with spare bedrooms graciously stepped up 3 months later to host 3 young ladies in need in their own home.
Having the opportunity to walk alongside our young adults to provide support, encouragement and direction has been and continues to be a passion of mine. There is so much more at stake here than simply meeting tangible needs and providing opportunities. This work is transformational. We are helping to rebuild a life foundation that in many respects has been poorly laid, and at best has its share of cracks. Our name says so much… Transitional Home Recognizing Independence, Value, and Empowerment. Seeing our youth transition from a place of fear, anxiety and uncertainty to stability and hope has been encouraging for me. I’ve personally watched each in their own unique way feel empowered to embrace a goal of independence, rather than shy away is inspiring. Being part of an incredibly important safety net of support that values each person for who they are, and propels them to write a hopeful and promising next chapter of their life story is incredibly fulfilling.
As I reflect on these thoughts, I can’t help but see the same parallel of how God reaches out to us, lovingly repairing our cracked foundations, encouraging and empowering us to become so much more as His adopted children and helping us to write new and more meaningful chapters in our own life. As a Father to the fatherless, God’s heart is near and dear to our aged out foster and at risk young adults. He is about relationship and has shown us that we are to be about relationship.
Through the many casualties suffered through trauma and the fracturing of families, the very bedrock of love, support and stability our youth should have been able to count on while growing up has been severely shaken, leaving a wake of anger, distrust, sadness, hopelessness and at times, even despair. Watching our young men and ladies interpersonally grow and progressively move toward healing, with relationship as the catalyst has further validated our commitment and willingness to step in the gap for the long haul. Rather than placing small, short term bandages on wounds that require more time to heal, we patiently and consistently build our relationships with these youth, communicating a restorative message of love, care, commitment and investment in their long-term growth and development, further readying them for their launch into life. But what does this look like day to day? What about when it gets messy? How is this type of commitment sustained?
Much of the impact of our work stems from an unswerving dedication of our live-in THRIVE house mentors, host family and program volunteers. They are in the trenches. With just over a year since launching our THRIVE homes, our mentors and host family continue to experience firsthand the growth and struggles, and victories and setbacks of our youth, all while learning and growing themselves, and ultimately realizing their own transformational impact of being genuine, intentional and trauma sensitive in their relationships. Our volunteers round out a compassionate, caring group who always show up at THRIVE events, something many of our youth have rarely experienced… someone who cares enough to keep showing up, listen and care.
The long-term interpersonal growth of our youth in relationship has especially come to fruition in the young men’s THRIVE house. Many of these young men became THRIVE residents a year ago and began their stay as guarded and reserved, both with THRIVE leadership and each other. Through seeking intentional relationships, modeling healthy interaction, increasing communication skills and learning a sense of healthy vulnerability, these young men have matured considerably together over the past 12 months and now share a self-defined common bond of brotherhood that each is committed to with the other. Amazing!
How do you measure success in God’s economy? From a financial cost-benefit analysis, THRIVE might be in the red because this work requires a long-term commitment with mixed messiness along the way. But what’s really important here? What will have lasting value? At the end of the day, God’s manner of reconciling is not ours. THRIVE is in the relationship investment business and with God’s direction, assistance and blessing, we are His relational change-agents, guiding each young adult’s journey toward independence and self-sufficiency.
– Jim Deming
Program Director, THRIVE
Join us with helping THRIVE continue to THRIVE! If you have a heart for our youth and a desire to serve, we would love to have you partner in various ways: as a member of a project team as we prepare our new THRIVE Quad complex, assisting with THRIVE Nights for our youth, etc.
For more information, please contact THRIVE Program Director, Jim Deming at (714) 515-3010
or click the Get Involved button.