VOICES is making an impact thanks to Impact100 Sonoma

Having VOICES services available to me in Sonoma was a help to me because it was conveniently located in the same town I live in. I didn’t have to drive or find a way out of town for help and answers concerning my resume, cover letter, job opportunities and even financial aid for college.                               … A message from a youth living in Sonoma

The partnership between VOICES Sonoma and Impact100 Sonoma is  already off to a fantastic start! VOICES was awarded a $15,000 Community Grant in support of our expansion effort with the aim of identifying, serving, and empowering current and former foster youth living in the Sonoma Valley. These youth face unique and significant barriers as they “age out” of the foster system.

VOICES 1Since June, VOICES has been spending time at the Sonoma Valley Teen Center to identify and work with local foster youth using VOICES’ peer-based model, in which youth are coached by other youth who have successfully navigated the process. Foster youth face extremely high rates of unemployment and homelessness, but with early intervention and empowerment programs, these negative outcomes can be avoided.

With Impact100 funding, VOICES has already provided direct assistanceVOICES 2 to dozens of youth in Sonoma Valley, including “youth-friendly” employment support in building a résumé and finding a job. Since receipt of the grant, we directly assisted three youth in getting their first job and facilitated the entry of two youth into safe and stable housing.

Sonoma_employmentIn the winter of 2014, VOICES will initiate a leadership project in Sonoma Valley. Youth who are interested in taking a leadership role within VOICES will work together to identify a specific issue within the foster system that they want to change or a program they want to implement. Guided by a VOICES youth staff, they will develop an action plan, present the plan to the Sonoma County Child Welfare Director, and begin work to address the issue. We never underestimate the power of youth motivated to make change, as it was a group of youth responsible for extending the age of the foster care system from 18 to 21 – allowing youth three additional years to prepare for the world!

VOICES is extremely appreciative of the support offered Tanya_Sonoma2by Impact100 Sonoma,and  all of the youth who will gain important skills and develop their own confidence truly appreciate your investment!

– by Amber Twitchell,
Program Director VOICES-On The Move