Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, June 12 newspaper on Page A5.
McARTHUR — Sojourners Care Network started off its 20-year anniversary with over $2 million worth of federal grant awards.
The Administration of Children and Families, under the US Department of Health and Human Services, is awarding the local nonprofit with a $200,000 Transitional Living Program grant.
Sojourners offers shared and independent transitional housing to at-risk youth. For example, the Turn House, named after a past employee of Sojourners, sits behind the organization’s McArthur office. This building is open to youth in need of temporary housing.
Sojourners estimates it had 60 participants enrolled in their transitional housing programs over the past three years.
Because of Sojourners’ participation in the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, the care network received a $994,748 grant to provide services to youth and young families experiencing homelessness.
This funding will specifically go toward the Sojourners Crisis Response Outreach team, which canvases the community and works with partners to serve those in need. This service is available in Vinton, Athens, Gallia, Meigs, Jackson, Ross and Hocking counties, and team members work with agencies such as Integrated Services, Hopewell Health Center, juvenile courts or the county’s children’s services to connect young people to resources. The team also helps operate Sojourners’ 24/7 crisis hotline.
Second, the Crisis Transitional Housing project provides emergency shelter to young adults and young families throughout Southeast Ohio. Sojourners will make scattered-site apartments available to at-risk youth, and a network of host homes will become available in the future.
Sojourners co-founder Rich Games explained that the organization uses its existing network of foster-care parents to create host homes. To become a host home, interested parties must become licensed by the state and have background checks.
“We want to make sure young people are safe and well cared for,” he said.
In addition, earlier this year Sojourners received $1.1 million of funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to put toward the county’s YouthBuild program.
YouthBuild is an education and training program administered by Sojourners. Participants in the YouthBuild program will work toward their high school diplomas or earning their GED. They will also receive basic construction credentials through the National Center for Construction Education and Resources (NCCER) or credentials for being a nurse aide.
The first group of participants starts the program June 17.
Sojourners co-founder Marcus Games said he and the rest of the organization are very thankful for this funding, but much more goes into building Sojourners’ services than federal dollars.
“We hope that people who recognize the value of our service to youth will want to become partners in our efforts and consider helping us by making a donation or volunteering,” he said.