3 metro organizations serving teens (and their families) - MetroFamily Magazine
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3 metro organizations serving teens (and their families)

Parents Helping Parents launches online support group

Parents Helping Parents recently launched its Virtual Chapter, providing resources, shared experiences and support to parents whose children struggle with substance use disorder. PHP offers in-person support group meetings in Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond and Tulsa, but because the organization wanted to reach parents and caregivers unable to physically attend those meetings, the virtual option was born.

“We hope these meetings offer help and hope to parents or other caregivers of children of any age struggling with substance use disorder who for one reason or another find it too difficult to attend meetings in person,” said Hugh Benson, board chair for PHP. “Those of us who love someone struggling with this disorder are not alone. There is help and hope.”

Virtual meetings are live-streamed through the PHP Facebook page at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month. Speakers and facilitators share recovery stories, discuss the power of families in recovery and explain treatment options.

Pivot opens tiny homes community for youth in transition

Pivot Tiny Homes Community opens this month with the first of three tiny homes for youth living on their own without parental support. Pivot, A Turning Point for Youth, works with young people who are homeless, have aged out of the foster system, experienced involvement with child welfare or juvenile justice systems or lack stability.

“They are alone or disengaged, many living with damaging labels and shame,” said Melanie Anthony, vice president of development and community engagement for Pivot. “They have overwhelming barriers in their lives without the resources to overcome them and successfully transition into self-reliant adults.”

The Tiny Homes Community, funded by a $100,000 Impact Oklahoma grant, addresses the lack of safe, transitional living space for these youth, primarily ages 16 to 19. With the homes located on Pivot’s property, each youth will be connected to the organization’s wrap-around services, like therapeutic care, mentoring and life skill development, prevention and intervention services and The youth selected to occupy the first three homes have no parental support or have aged out of the foster care system while still in high school.

“Many youth we see are trying to finish their high school education, find and maintain employment and do not have a safe, consistent place to live or sleep,” said Anthony. “When housing is secured, that fear of ‘where am I sleeping tonight,’ ‘when will I be able to eat again’ goes away and they can focus on their school work and studying for tests, being rested and clean when they show up for work.”

The Tiny Homes Community is seeking volunteers to beautify the grounds, donations to furnish homes and notes of encouragement for residents. Community members can also collect shelf-stable food, personal hygiene items and new or gently used jeans and khakis for the youth served by Pivot. For a current donation wish list, visit www.pivotok.org/current-wish-list.

Sisu celebrates one year of operating overnight youth shelter

Sisu Youth Services has grown from the simple collection and distribution of emergency resources for at-risk youth to both a day center and overnight shelter, open seven days a week. One of the only organizations offering emergency shelter to this transitional age group, in 2018, Sisu served 208 individual youth, provided safe, warm beds 2,900 times, served more than 6,400 hot meals and connected youth with more than 4,000 services and resources.

Four beds are available for ages 15 to 17 in the minor dorm, and 12 beds are open for ages 18 to 22, with youth being turned away nightly. Some youth stay for one night while they connect with a relative who can provide housing, others stay for months, contributing to the shelter while staff and volunteers help secure stable, long-term housing and connect them to a variety of resources, including health services, job training, transportation assistance, counseling, legal aid, food pantries and educational support. 

Youth turn to Sisu for various reasons. Brent and his mother were homeless and because he’s 18, he cannot stay with her at the women’s shelter. Derek aged out of foster care when he graduated high school, and without a family support system, he didn’t know how to access resources, get a job or create a budget. 15-year-old Sarah came out to her father, who emotionally abused her and kicked her out of her home. Jared couldn’t always afford medication for his mental illness, or a bus pass to get to the doctor, so he turned to drugs and alcohol, lost his job and was evicted from his apartment.

“Our youth need a safe space to rest without worrying about their next meal, their abusive ex, the bad weather or the dangers of sleeping on the street,” said Rachel Bradley, Sisu board member. “They need support and guidance to replace documents like a birth certificate or social security card, which they need to get a job or apply for benefits.”

Families and community members can support Sisu by providing a hot evening meal to shelter residents or gathering donations like bottled water, snacks or men’s and women’s underwear. For a list of current needs, visit www.facebook.com/SisuYouthOKC.