Project Everlast Lincoln is just getting started. It’s modeling itself after Project Everlast Omaha, the highly successful system of resources and supports for youth in foster care in the metro area.
If the planning meeting last Tuesday is any indication, this new program is on the right track. For starters, everyone who needed to be there was there. HHS was there. The housing authority was there. Political types were there. Service organizations were there. Faith-based organizations were there. Educators were there. And most importantly, youth in foster care was there.
And they all had ideas.
As Rosey Higgs started the discussion – which for this meeting focused on how to better meet the educational and employment needs of youth in care and aging out of the system – people from every sector had good thoughts. Some were improvements to existing systems, some where whole new programs, and still some were recommending subtle mindset shifts among teachers, administrators and managers.
But the magic wasn’t in the ideas. It was in the immediate feedback.
One attendee brought up the problem of housing vouchers. Someone from the housing authority was immediately able to explain the situation. Because all of these people were in the same room, they all came away with the same understanding.
Everyone in the room got to hear the concerns and struggles of the youth who attended.
The youth got to hear from people who have the power to make aging out of care a little easier, an find out what they’re doing and that they care.
True, it was only a planning meeting. None of the youth walked away with jobs or apartments or degrees. But everyone came away with a better understanding of what needs to be done and a clear idea of their part in the process.
That is the magic of having everyone in the same room.