PPL Grant to Valley Youth House Supports Services for Homeless Youth
Finding and keeping a job is the most difficult challenge in a young homeless person’s journey to independence. A grant to Valley Youth House will support the agency’s work to make that possible.
Valley Youth House (VYH) has received a $5,000 grant from the PPL Foundation for their Supportive Housing Program to prepare homeless Lehigh Valley youth for workforce opportunities. This grant will provide homeless youth with housing and supportive services that focus on educational/vocational advancement and workforce development skills.
Those benefiting from this grant are very low-income youth, ages 18 to 24, and their babies in the Lehigh Valley. These youth have been homeless or unstably housed–living in shelters, on the streets, or couch-surfing with friends or relatives. Many of them have gaps in education, and very few have employment experience or the soft and hard skills necessary to obtain meaningful employment that will lead to advancement and pay a living wage. Many have never filled out a job application or prepared a resume.
This project is an integral component of the agency’s Lehigh Valley Supportive Housing Program (LVSHP). Without safe, stable housing, the ultimate goal of workforce readiness cannot be achieved. While participating in the program, youth are provided with rental assistance and other services according to an Individual Goal Plan, which is developed together with their Life Skills Counselor, and which outlines their needs in four main areas: housing, life skills development, education, and employment. The Plan also addresses the needs of the children, such as health care, developmental progress, and daycare.
Valley Youth House staff provide supervision, case management, mentoring, counseling/therapy, life skills education, and parenting skills education. Participants also receive some financial assistance for security deposits, transportation, food, and furnishings. Participants are assisted in accessing mainstream benefits for which they are eligible (i.e. Medical Assistance, SSI/SDI, food stamps, subsidized childcare, etc.) and are connected to community resources that will make it possible to sustain stability following conclusion of services.
“PPL is committed to making a meaningful difference in the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, PPL Electric Utilities’ regional affairs director. “Partnering with local organizations that enhance education for our community’s children today will help them be prepared for high-quality jobs tomorrow.”
Pictured in photo: Christina Schoemaker, Vice President of Development & Marketing, Valley Youth House; Katie Pavolko, Life Skills Counselor, Supportive Housing Program, Valley Youth House; Annie Figueroa (with children, Abdiel Gabriel and Yamelette), VYH Supportive Housing Program family; Michele Albright, Associate Director, Lehigh Valley & Luzerne Housing Programs, Valley Youth House; and Carol Obando-Derstine, Regional Affairs Director, PPL Electric Utilities.