Lorain County Neighborhood of Hope to offer help system for younger individuals | Lorain County

A new program is coming in Lorain County that will provide mentoring support to youth in need.

Community of Hope is a relationship-based service serving young people aged 18-25 who are no longer cared for and / or have suffered trauma and have been involved in any of the following systems: mental health, substance use, juvenile justice, childcare and / or developmental disorders.

“Community of Hope, we’re based in Cleveland,” said Amber Donovan, executive director of Community of Hope. “We serve young people who were in care.

“Lorain County basically has a grant for transition children. They have a grant for teenagers and teenagers involved in various systems such as mental health, developmental disorders, welfare and juvenile justice. So basically one of the childcare systems in Lorain County. “

Donovan said the goal is to take the young adult with you and provide them with their own support system.

“We create mentoring teams, which is a loose term for what we do, because we are really trying to create a social support system for the children,” she said. “It is a community of hope because it is their own community of people.

“It’s a small group, we’ll do about five or six for our Cleveland groups around a youngster. At Lorain we will do about three or four.”

Donovan said the young people in the Community of Hope had really responded to the members of their group.

“When you were 18, the development material, you don’t want to sit around the table with a bunch of older adults,” she said. “But the young people we serve are hungry for relationships. You need more positive influences in your life.

“The people in the group are not professionals; they are not social workers or counselors. They are just people who want to hang out with and support a young person.”

Fun activities

Donovan said the group activities can be very fun.

“It could be going to the theater, going to a park, kayaking, or any other activity they want to do,” she said. “In building relationships, we can learn skills that can help us in life.

“It lets young people know that they are valuable and worth our support.”

Donovan said the first year of the program really sets that foundation.

“At the end of the year, you may have better relationships with some members of your group than others,” she said. “These are the people young people would call if they had a question about buying a car or renting an apartment. They help you control things in life.

“They are just positive people who make a positive impact. I’ve been doing this since 2014. Many of our young people have been positively influenced by the communities that form around them.”

Heather Distin, cross-system program director on the Lorain County’s Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) board of directors, is the associate helping implement the program in Lorain County.

“We’re expanding it into Lorain County, and the big difference from what’s been done in Cleveland is the maintenance component,” said Distin. “In Lorain County we have a lot fewer children aging from foster care, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of young people anchored in juvenile justice, child services, substance abuse, or youth family history of these things across several Generations. “

Distin said the Ohio Healthy Transitions Project will help the young people involved in the program.

“For the first year this is a two-year pilot. The young people for the first year must be referred and be part of our Ohio Healthy Transitions Project,” she said. “This is a new service for our county where a young person is assigned a navigator who helps them develop independent life skills and shows them how to navigate the system for application, housing, etc.

“The second year is funded by the project partners. The MHARS Board, Lorain County Board of Mental Disorders, Juvenile Justice, and Childcare will fund the second year through the Integrated Services Partnership in Lorain County. However, you only need to be touched by one of these systems. “

Community of Hope is seeking volunteers in Lorain County who commit to one hour per week to become part of a community for a young person in need of the service.

Marilyn Zeidner is the program coordinator for the Lorain County Community of Hope program.

If you’re interested or know someone, email Zeidner at [email protected] or call 216-407-0601.

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