Blog Articles

LifeSet Changed my Life – Emely’s Story

LifeSet Changed my Life – Emely’s Story

When she was only 9 years old, Emely was abused by someone she thought she could trust. She was forced to do and see things no child should have to experience. For eight years, the abuse was constant and ongoing.

Growing Resilience in Youth

Growing Resilience in Youth

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. For more than two years, we’ve seen study after study proving the declining mental health of kids and teens. There has also been an uptick in crisis calls received by Youth Villages across the state of Tennessee.

LifeSet inspires Clarita to pursue education, give back to community

LifeSet inspires Clarita to pursue education, give back to community

At times, the hurt is too unbearable to return. When ties are cut, it can affect more than immediate family. It can reverberate through the community and sever bonds with friends, acquaintances and extended relatives. For Clarita, the pattern of hurt took a turn for the worse when she was 8 years old.

Learning how to cope

Learning how to cope

Nineteen-year-old Trinity has learned many life skills through the Youth Villages LifeSet program, which serves as a bridge from foster care to successful adulthood and helps young adults build the skills they need to live independently and successfully.

LifeSet partner agencies convene in Philadelphia

LifeSet partner agencies convene in Philadelphia

Leaders from all 20 implementing LifeSet partner agencies attended a convening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to learn more about effectively implementing the program model and to share insights from implementations in their states and jurisdictions.

Coming Full Circle – Brett’s Story

Coming Full Circle – Brett’s Story

At 6 years old, Brett entered foster care. He spent 11 years in and out of group homes and different foster placements. Finding a permanent home felt like it was never going to happen for him.

LifeSet to launch in Central Washington with Catholic Charities

LifeSet to launch in Central Washington with Catholic Charities

LifeSet is moving east in the Evergreen State. In mid-June, Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington was announced as the new partner to provide LifeSet in the area. The organization will serve youth in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties with LifeSet under contract with the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

LifeSet’s Helen Baker grows through challenges, successes in Seattle

LifeSet’s Helen Baker grows through challenges, successes in Seattle

Helen Baker is the LifeSet program director at the Y Social Impact Center, a part of the YMCA of Greater Seattle that serves King and Pierce Counties in Washington. Baker, who started as a LifeSet specialist, has been with the YMCA’s program since it began in 2016. In this Q&A, she offers insight into the successes and challenges that LifeSet has experienced in Washington.

LifeSet Gives Student a Chance to Run towards success

LifeSet Gives Student a Chance to Run towards success

Ares Epps is a LifeSet participant, LifeSet Scholar and a North Carolina State University student athlete, who has accomplished many of his goals through track and field, and with the support of Youth Villages. The LifeSet program offers youth who are aging out of foster care tools to ease the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Meet Memphis Allies: Brandon and Bryan Mathis, Life Coaches

Meet Memphis Allies: Brandon and Bryan Mathis, Life Coaches

The man was shot and killed in front of his 2-year-old daughter. It was another senseless homicide in Memphis; another child traumatized by gun violence. To Brandon and Bryan Mathis and the Memphis Allies team, this man, this incident was more than just a statistic.

East Tennessee’s Backpack Heroes gets big boost from KAAR, ‘Birdies for Backpacks’

East Tennessee’s Backpack Heroes gets big boost from KAAR, ‘Birdies for Backpacks’

Backpack Heroes is an annual Youth Villages fundraiser focused on equipping children and young adults in each of the organization’s service regions with school supplies needed for the upcoming year. East Tennessee is one of those areas, and Youth Villages is grateful for the financial support Backpack Heroes receives from the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors (KAAR) and its Birdies for Backpacks golf tournament.

Donor Spotlight: Meghan Markie

Donor Spotlight: Meghan Markie

Middle Tennessee native and donor, Meghan Markie, originally from Columbia, Tennessee, has been supporting Youth Villages after her father introduced her to the organization, where he volunteered as a Dell employee before his passing. Since getting involved, Meghan joined the Middle Tennessee Advisory Board, and for the last two years, she served as Board Chair.

Youth Villages reroutes Mariana’s life Course

Youth Villages reroutes Mariana’s life Course

When many teenagers enter their junior year of high school, their life pathways are somewhat charted. For some, the path leads to college. For others, a trade or technical school. For still others, finding employment. But often that path is set up starting with the freshman year.

Helping young men choose a different path

Helping young men choose a different path

This week, Royal Chatman will be in juvenile court supporting a young man who’s facing an aggravated assault charge. The court will be determining whether the young man will be transferred to adult court – or be assigned to the Memphis Allies SWITCH program.

How to help celebrate Pride

How to help celebrate Pride

June has long been recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, observing the need for equality and inclusion across all sexual identity communities. The topic of sexual orientation and identification can be a tough one for adults to approach, so imagine being a teenager needing to have these conversations with your family and your community.

Following the Plan

Following the Plan

Youth Villages celebrates an adoption story on National Foster Care Day. Even the best laid plans don’t go as planned, and that also goes for foster care and adoption. However, for Chinishe Ray, her plans to adopt have gone as expected not only once but twice.

Opening Homes & Hearts

Opening Homes & Hearts

Foster parenting sounds intimidating but with support, can be incredibly rewarding. Linzie Mullins, a Youth Villages foster-to-adopt parent in Memphis, was once in your shoes.

A Letter to Youth Villages

A Letter to Youth Villages

Dear Youth Villages, My name is Amber, and I am 23 years old. I lost my dad at a very young age and grew up with a mother who battled addiction and untreated trauma that led to many mental health problems leaving her incapable of caring for herself or for me.

SWITCH team members have earned the right to be heard…

SWITCH team members have earned the right to be heard…

Troy Dotson’s face tells part of his story… there’s a six-point star with a ‘G’ for Gangster Disciples on his cheek. Two other tattoos there signify the “work” he put in for the gang and his high rank in the organization.

LifeSet gave Shylann tools to cope with anxiety, succeed in school

LifeSet gave Shylann tools to cope with anxiety, succeed in school

Imagine this scenario: You’re a dormitory resident assistant (RA) on a college campus. A winter storm comes through, dumping several inches of snow and lowering temperatures below freezing. Then, the dorm’s pipes burst. Suddenly, your residents have no water—to drink, shower or even flush toilets. They all are looking to you for help and guidance.

LifeSet expanding in Missouri — the “Show-Me” State

LifeSet expanding in Missouri — the “Show-Me” State

Julie Lester, chief program officer for the Missouri Alliance for Children and Families (MACF), says the “Show-Me” State not only needed LifeSet but craved something like it. Initial implementation proceeded despite the pandemic, and now MACF is expanding LifeSet to a second location.

LifeSet walks step-by-step with Dallas

LifeSet walks step-by-step with Dallas

Nineteen-year-old Dallas, a young man in southwest Missouri, sees his LifeSet specialist as more than just a health professional working to help him. She’s more like a friend walking with him every step—something he hasn’t always had.

How I got “LifeSetted”: Q&A with Darin Hudson, LPE with Turning Points

How I got “LifeSetted”: Q&A with Darin Hudson, LPE with Turning Points

Darin Hudson is a Licensed Program Expert with Turning Points, a LifeSet implementing provider based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Darin joined Turning Points in 2014 and has grown his career with LifeSet. In this Q&A, Darin explores his journey from specialist to Licensed Program Expert with the hope of inspiring others to take the opportunity to grow with LifeSet.

Generations of Youth Villages Volunteers

Generations of Youth Villages Volunteers

Lisa Small and Kim Lapidus served the Nashville chapter of the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW) for several years. Their dedicated involvement with NCJW later brought them to Youth Villages…

K’laja’s Journey with Youth Villages

K’laja’s Journey with Youth Villages

K’laja is currently enrolled in Youth Villages’ LifeSet program, an intensive support program designed to help youth actualize their goals of self-sufficiency and independence as they prepare to age out of foster care. Without these supports, young people face far...

Intercept Brings the Holmes Family Back Home

Intercept Brings the Holmes Family Back Home

Mia must have thought the world was crumbling around her. “It was hard, stressful,” said Mia, who was 16 years old at the time. “I was the oldest (child), so I had to keep pushing for everyone. I kept praying.”

Healing Through the Written Word

Healing Through the Written Word

Sometimes, the closest people to us—family and friends—don’t understand. They may think they know the situation better than anyone, even the person who is suffering. Instead of helping that person, it may lead to further issues.

A Lifeline of Hope

A Lifeline of Hope

Young people who experience foster care are resilient and capable. Still, they need support as they move toward adulthood.

Mentors provide positive experience for our youth

Mentors provide positive experience for our youth

January is National Mentor Appreciation Month, and we are immensely grateful for all our Georgia mentors! Mentoring is a calling to be of service to a young person during a pivotal time in their development. Our mentors commit to spending time with mentees for four to six hours a month…

Meet Our New LifeSet Supervisor!

Meet Our New LifeSet Supervisor!

Youth Villages is excited to welcome Amanda Matthews as the new supervisor for LifeSet in Oregon. We are so grateful to have Amanda lead LifeSet as we begin 2022, a year with ambitious growth goals for the program.

Organization is the key

Organization is the key

Kiara is a busy young lady. A single mother, Kiara takes care of her 8-year-old daughter, Kyra. She also attends college full time, taking prerequisites to pursue a nursing degree. Additionally, she works full time in an overnight job with Memphis-based FedEx.

Mentors, mentees connect through ‘nerdom’

Mentors, mentees connect through ‘nerdom’

When twins Jordan and Devan Brown were in the LifeSet program, Youth Villages paired them with mentors. Instead of just sending someone their way, the twins were allowed to list some qualities they wanted in their mentors.

A Gamechanger for Mental Health

A Gamechanger for Mental Health

In 2019, 16-year-old Cassidy was in an in-patient mental health center. She struggled for years with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. In just one year, Cassidy was hospitalized for her mental health nine times…

The Neal Family celebrated another adoption!

The Neal Family celebrated another adoption!

Remember, Jonathan and Jaywanna Neal adopting Christopher in 2019, well the family celebrated another adoption this past year adopting Maliki in May of 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. The family wasted no time adopting Maliki as soon as he became available for adoption.

Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month, a time to end the stigma around suicides and offer help to those experiencing a mental health crisis. Tennessee had a total of 1,219 suicides last year, an 11% increase since 2015. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death by...

Finding My North Star: My journey from foster care to success

Finding My North Star: My journey from foster care to success

By Elina MorrisonYouth Villages Advisory Council Dear 17-year-old Elina, At this time in your life, you are angry and sad, and things feel beyond repair. It’s October of 2017, and you have been placed in the foster care system for the second time in your life. While...

Learning to be Patient – Neal Family

Learning to be Patient – Neal Family

For Middle Tennessee-based Jaywanna Neal, fostering is second nature. Growing up, her mom opened her home to foster children and adopted a pair of siblings. When Jaywanna was single and in her 20s, she took in her first foster child. She said it was a great...

Justin checks off big goals as he moves toward independence

Justin checks off big goals as he moves toward independence

It’s been a big year for Justin.

A participant in the Pressley Ridge LifeSet program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Justin was turning 21 this year and needed to finish high school, find a place to live that gave him more independence, and learn life and social skills. He and LifeSet Specialist Ryan King kept a list and began checking things off.

Archives