For many young adults, juggling a job and going to college can be incredibly difficult. Imagine how much harder it would be if you were given an unfair start into adulthood. The young adults in ACH’s LIFE Project come into the program with backgrounds in foster care or homelessness. Oftentimes, ACH becomes a safety net for them, creating a positive environment where their accomplishments and milestones are celebrated—as any family would do.
ACH is so proud of 18-year-old Karrington, who recently reached her six-month anniversary at her first job. She also earned a promotion! Working at In-N-Out Burger is an incredibly stressful, fast-paced job—and balancing this while being a college student is no easy feat.
ACH’S LIFE PROJECT IS HERE TO HELP THESE YOUNG ADULTS COMING FROM ROUGH SITUATIONS BY PROVIDING THEM WITH THE TOOLS AND SKILLS THEY NEED TO NAVIGATE ADULTHOOD. PART OF BECOMING AN ADULT INCLUDES MILESTONES, LIKE GETTING YOUR FIRST JOB OR LEARNING HOW TO DRIVE, AND WHEN THOSE THINGS HAPPEN, WE CELEBRATE.
“With everything that is going on with the coronavirus, it is definitely a job that is intense,” Karrington shared. “It felt like a huge accomplishment when they told me I was promoted.”
Volunteer Mentor Coordinator Kate Faggella-Luby spends a lot of time with the young adults. She mentioned how important it is that big milestones like these are affirmed for the young adults in LIFE because of how hard they work to become independent, self-sufficient adults.
“Part of what families do is build celebrations and memories that become part of our identity. Because these young adults are already on their own, it’s up to us to help celebrate and encourage all the positive things in their lives,” said Kate.
As a way to honor this milestone, LIFE Project mentors threw Karrington a fun-filled celebration. They gathered on Zoom and played a trivia game through Kahoot! During the celebration, Karrington was presented with a certificate of achievement.
“It felt really nice to have people celebrate the fact that I’m working hard,” she said.
Afterward, volunteer mentors shared experiences, funny stories, and advice from their first jobs—it became a great way for the young adults to connect.
“It is a real privilege for our volunteers and staff to celebrate the progress and hard work of these young adults,” Kate added. “It makes all of us feel good to take a minute and recognize good things happening in the world.”
Stay tuned in our blog as we celebrate many more milestones with the young adults in the LIFE Project!
ACH is especially grateful for the continued support of the Holloway Family Foundation, which helps fund volunteer mentoring programs for our LIFE Project.
During the stressful times of COVID-19, the Sprouts Gardening Committee—formed by young adults in the LIFE Project Program—has become a healthy outlet and opportunity for personal growth.
When shelter in place orders took effect in Tarrant County, this meant many of the young adults had to put plans for their future on hold, like going to job interviews. They were faced with uncomfortable uncertainties, and the garden became a way for the young adults to relieve their frustrations by giving back and volunteering their time. While spending time in the garden, they are able to put their worries aside and focus on the plants they are caring for.
Gardening brings about healing and a sense of belonging, which is incredibly beneficial for the young adults in our care—many of whom come from a life in foster care or homelessness. Cultivating the garden, feeling connected to nature and each other, and focusing on the growth of a plant, helps build their self-confidence.
More than anything, taking the time to learn different gardening techniques, and skills promotes self-efficacy—the ability to feel empowered and in control of a productive project— within the young adults. This growing confidence is what ACH seeks to implement within all the youth we serve.
For Alex, Sprouts Gardening Committee member, the garden has shown her and the other members that if they encourage themselves, and believe they can achieve a goal, they will.
“We want this to succeed,” said Alex. “Even if it gets challenging and there are a lot of obstacles, you have to keep pushing through.”
Digging for a Deep Meaning to Gardening
The Sprouts Gardening Committee, or Sprouts for short, is digging deeper. They’ve been working on growing more plants, utilizing garden techniques, and turning every step of the way into a chance to learn.
Sprouts meets every Thursday afternoon for a learning session and discussion. “Conversations on gardening often lead to addressing life skills that are important for personal growth,” said Cassie Morgan, a LIFE Project mentor and Sprouts Gardening Committee leader.
One of these discussions included how plants can form bonds, just like us.
“We discussed several techniques related to companion gardening and which plants grow best together,” said Cassie. “This opened up conversations to discuss how we need healthy friendships and relationships to really grow well and it gave us the opportunity to talk about what a good friend looks like.”
During a conversation about removing weeds from the garden, Sprouts also talked about unhealthy relationships and the effects they can have on our life.
“We also discussed how to set up healthy boundaries and how to keep toxic people from hurting us,” said Cassie.
Cultivating the Garden Club
The LIFE Project is a supervised independent living program here at ACH that promotes self-sufficiency in young adults, ages 18-21, who are homeless or are in extended foster care.
The Sprouts Gardening Committee was formed in April after Alex and a few other members of the LIFE Project noticed that the Wichita garden, created by volunteers, need a little TLC.
Alex had only planted a few seedlings at the time, but with encouragement from Cassie, and LIFE Project mentor Stephanie Henry, she decided to take on the task of maintaining and caring for the campus garden.
“They apparently think I have a green thumb,” Alex joked.
From there, the Sprouts Gardening Committee was formed with Alex and a few other young adults from the LIFE Project, who wanted to volunteer their time to add more beauty to the campus. In April alone, the committee volunteered a total of 27 hours!
“The first thing that caught me off guard was the more people that wanted to join the committee and join this journey,” said Alex. “That was very surprising, especially from some of the boys.”
RTC Lends a Helping Hand
The Residential Treatment Center (RTC) helps vulnerable youth ages 13-17 in the foster care system who need time away from home to heal from trauma and rebuild trust in adults.
The committee itself is growing too. Young adults from ACH’s Residential Treatment Center are going to start getting involved, thanks to Alex. Richard Capodagli, Director of the RTC, saw our previous blog on Sprouts and asked Alex if the RTC youth could join the committee. Alex and the committee were more than happy for more members!
Youth in the RTC are often dealing with overwhelming emotions from past trauma, and the healing benefits from gardening will be helpful in their journey here at ACH.
“We definitely hope that it can inspire other groups to get involved,” said Cassie. “We want to partner with more groups on campus to make it a success.”
Alex is excited to see how the garden turns out and hopes that everyone at ACH will be able to benefit from it.
“It may not be blossoming as much as we want it to, but at least the garden is something that we worked hard for, and that’s enough for me,” she said. “It’s amazing to know that gardening will help us in the future, and we can always regrow, and flourish even more.”
The group does have an overall goal of arranging flowers they’ve grown to form the letters ACH, as well as adding colorful bricks, and a birdbath to beautify the garden.
“We just want to make it something we worked for and were proud of and other people can see it and get inspired too,” she said.
However, Alex said there is one other thing she had hopes to see come from the garden.
And it happened!
Help Sprouts Grow!
The Sprouts Gardening Committee needs help from our community to continue flourishing!
We are currently asking for in-kind donations that include seeds, plants, soil, and gardening tools. For the safety of our clients, all donations must be new and unopened and through appointment only.
We stand for safety, hope, and love for all. Racism is the opposite of everything ACH stands for. We love by striving for justice. By giving a voice to those who are not being heard. By creating an agency with integrity and one we are proud to represent. Our mission is driven on empathy for children who come from hard places, and we will continue to work towards this mission with the openness and willingness to listen and learn.
Throughout the nation and locally, demonstrations continue and remind us of the inequalities that still exist in our country. George Floyd’s murder is one of many to become yet another reminder that the knife of racism continues to cut deeply in our society.
Establishing safety and stability for our youth and families remains our priority. We recognize racism and prejudices often add to the trauma many of our youth have endured from abuse and neglect. Our staff and supporters’ understanding and passion continues to be essential to driving our mission, especially in times of chaos and frustration.
We hope you will join us in seeking out diverse perspectives and feel reassured to show courage in difficult conversations. Change begins with us all.
Wayne Carson, ACH CEO
ACH Child and Family Services 3712 Wichita Street Fort Worth, Texas 76119
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