Youth voice is growing in our community and beginning to make a positive impact. As a direct result of young people who are able to bring their ideas, opinions, knowledge, and experiences into the discussions that affect their lives, it’s helping to bring effective organizational changes to the community and its youth-serving organizations.
A Friend’s House is Orange County’s only runaway and homeless youth shelter. Located in Middletown, it provides temporary shelter and support to youth in crisis, offering 13 beds that serve youth ages 1-17. While they serve primarily runaway and homeless youth, a significant number of youth are admitted due to serious family conflict, when a "time out" is needed between youth and their families to address issues.
Our System of Care Youth Leaders recently met with Jennifer Durning, HONORehg, to talk about ways to increase positive outcomes for runaways and homeless youth. Encouraged by our Youth Engagement Specialist, Joy Hansen, to voice relevant concerns, the group was also asked to include some personal insight into their past experiences as residents at A Friend's House. Their desire to help other youth also provided them with an opportunity to talk about some of the more positive and effective interactions they have had with the organization. As a result of the candid dialog and genuine youth voice, the administration and the board agreed to form a Youth Advisory Council, which will specifically address emergency housing, and will include System of Care Youth Leaders! See the letter below:
Orange County Youth Bureau18 Seward AvenueMiddletown, NY 10940
August 26, 2010
Dear Ms. Hansen,
I am taking this opportunity to place in writing my thanks for ensuring concerns voiced by former Residents of “A Friend’s House” were heard and acknowledged in an appropriate manner.
I would also like to extend my thanks and appreciation to those youth who stepped forward to voice their concerns. Their maturity, reserve, and trust in our Agency’s concerns policy is most impressive. Each should be applauded for their handling of these matters.
In response to these concerns please know that Administration met with “A Friend’s House” staff and your concerns were relayed. Where possible, corrective measures were designed and implemented. I ask that you contact me at your earliest convenience to review other actions taken and rebuttal towards the concerns voiced.
Joy, you have been a “symbol” and a driving force in promoting Positive Youth Voice. Your advocacy is commendable and of the utmost value to our community.
In closing, I would like to once again thank you and your youth.
Christopher Molinelli, HONORehg Chief Operations Officer
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