When you think about where you live, does it bring about feelings of peace and joy, or stress and sadness? How you feel about the place you live can dramatically affect your mood and outlook on life. Where you live should be a home, a place of rest and refuge. Now imagine living in a foster or group home and never having a stable place to call your own. For many kids across the state, where they live is far from being “home”. This can affect them deeply in every area of life.
Caleb grew up in a messy home that he is no longer allowed to visit. At 15, he moved to a group home. Although this was a good alternative to Caleb’s home, he was still surrounded by drama and negativity. Caleb has struggled with both social anxiety and major depression. A chaotic living environment is not conducive to healing these illnesses. He struggled to maintain jobs because of his anxiety and feared ever living on his own.
In October 2018, Caleb joined I Pour Life. Since becoming a part of the family and receiving one-on-one coaching, Caleb has held a job for over 9 months. This is a huge accomplishment as he’s struggled to keep jobs in the past because of his anxiety. He has made life-long friendships and is more vulnerable with the people close to him. All of these improvements occurred while he was living in the group home, but Caleb still lacked confidence and hope for life.
Caleb was recently given a very special opportunity. The group home he was living at, Footsteps Transitional Living, built their own apartments. These apartments were built for youth that need something in between the group home setting and living completely alone. Caleb, who was previously terrified of living alone, has now been given the chance to have his own place while still being steps away from his group home.
It’s so important for youth to experience living in their own place. Not only does it allow an opportunity to create their own positive environment, they also gain a sense of pride and independence. Having their own place gives them the chance to make small decisions like how to decorate their home or when to go to bed. We have been told that this gives them responsibility for their own lives. When they have that control, they have a reason to live. It gives them hope for the future and they can see with their own eyes that they will make it.
Since living in his own place, Caleb’s outlook on life has completely changed. Caleb’s LifeStrength’s coach went to visit his apartment. Caleb was so proud and excited that he showed him every detail of his home. His coach said since Caleb moved in he has “not seen him without a smile on his face. He is happy now and it’s really strange because I’ve only known him as sad for so long.” Caleb has grown so much and is becoming the man everyone knows he can be.
Here at I Pour Life, we are so grateful for the integrated model of social services in Springfield, where at-risk youth can find relief and rehabilitation through nonprofits like Footsteps. While we specifically focus on development, our partners provide youth with basic necessities that allow us to work in their lives.