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  • Fritzie Saintoiry

Let the Good Times Roll!

This is Week 6 of our summer program, which focuses on preparing foster youth to age out of the foster care system. We have ten boys from the Homestead community, ages 12-18, enrolled in our program. We meet 5 times every week to teach our boys different life skills and every Friday we go on a field trip.

Our 1st Week’s topic was on Housing. We looked at privileges for foster children once aged out, creating a dream home vision board, owning vs. renting, housing maintenance/responsibilities and housing as a career. We ended the week with a house hunting field trip! The boys got to see houses in a middle-class neighborhood and in a lower-class neighborhood. Understanding the cost of living will help prepare the boys to work hard toward their goals.

Week 2 was Employment Week. They learned about interviewing skills, online jobs, how to present themselves at work, job searching and how to create a resume. During the week, all of the boys learned how to tie a tie for the first time! They also volunteered at a homeless shelter. For one exercise, some of the boys decided to start a car cleaning business. They made business cards and flyers to get the word out and GHH bought cleaning supplies to assist them on the small business. It was a great learning experience for them to create and promote a business on their own.

Week 3 was on the subject of Financial Literacy. The boys learned how money is made, the importance of budgeting and saving, and good vs. bad credit. We took a field trip to the bank and found that most of the boys have never been to a bank before. They saw a vault, learned about debit cards, deposits, withdrawals and how the bank functions.

Week 4 was on Self-Improvement. We had a workshop on self-esteem building and the effects of bullying. We also discussed mental health awareness. To help drive the concept home, we had the boys break up into two groups and perform a skit where the audience had to guess what the mental health disability was. They also learned about treatments that could be used for each disability. We had a workshop on decision-making skills and how a bad decision can ruin their lives. They were presented with several hypothetical scenarios where they could choose what decision they would make and see what the possible outcomes might be. Another workshop was on effective communication. The boys did role play and learned the importance of choosing their words carefully. Through the week, to improve their overall outlook on life, they learned deep breathing methods that can be used for relaxation. At the end of the week, we took a field trip to Dave and Busters.

Week 5 was all about Cars. They learned about car safety tips, how to maintain your car and the rules of the road. Boys also learned studying tips. They broke into small groups where the older boys who were studying for the test taught the younger boys what they’ve been learning from the driving and the younger boys taught the older kids about their dream cars and tips on budgeting. Our fun field trip for that week was roller skating. Most of the boys had never been skating before and they had a blast!

We’re now going into week 6 with excitement as we’ve seen the boys grow so much already. We have two autistic kids who feel like they belong in the group, foster kids who feel like they aren’t alone and that there are others who have felt the same pain and are benefiting from being able to relate to one another. One boy said that he doesn’t want the workshops to end because of he feels a sense of family and brotherly love.

The purpose of this program is to prepare our boys for success. They are learning leadership skills and receiving training to survive and thrive in our society. We have quizzes at the end of every session to make sure that the workshops remain effective, and whoever gets a perfect score receives a gift card. At this point, we’re averaging 2 to 3 winners each week! We provide transportation and food. We haven’t experienced any problems with attendance. We are so happy to report that our summer program is going so well and that we see these boys’ lives being impacted positively every week! We’re so thankful and blessed by your support! Thank you for joining GHH as we continue on our mission to foster new beginnings.

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