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Teen Life

Spring Break

Spring Break

Last week the kids were on spring break! In this post, Ms. Kamelle shares some of the teen house’s adventures!

It's Graduation Season!

It's Graduation Season!

This year there are 3.5 million students expected to graduate high school, a milestone each one of them has spent their entire lives working toward. But did you know that kids who have been in foster care are 50% less likely to graduate by the time they turn 19?

Spring Break

Spring Break

Last week the kids were on Sprig Break and we were able to share some brand new experiences with them, like zip lining through the Gorge in North Carolina with Generation Next.

The Promise of Spring

We love watching the seasons change and spring in South Carolina might be one of our favorite things. Even after the hardest of winters, the trees and flowers begin to bloom and give new life once again. For the kids and teens we help every day, it’s a visual reminder that life might not always be easy, but when you’re determined it eventually brings change. For the 10 teens in our care who are preparing for high school graduation, this spring brings a lot of change. We’ve been helping them with college applications, taking them to tour campuses, and walking them through the financial aid and scholarship processes. Last month we held a higher education workshop for our underclassmen to help them begin the college planning process. We’ve already been able to celebrate a few acceptance letters too!

Trevor has lived at Palmetto Place since November 2015. Before coming to Palmetto Place he didn’t have stable housing and was bounced from one school to another. This put him a full year behind his other classmates. It was discouraging for him not to graduate on time, but with the support from our staff he set new goals.

In the last year he has worked hard to find and maintain a job, pass his driver’s test, and even get his own car. Once he knew he was stable in his new school, he was able to get more involved with the school band and with the help from the community we were able to provide him with his own trumpet. This spring he was recognized as a Legend in the Making by his high school and has accepted a band scholarship to SC State.

Our other graduates are looking into programs at Midlands Tech and Greeneville Tech and a couple have received confirmation that they’ll be joining our country’s Armed Forces. We are so proud of all the hard work and dedication from all of our residents. This spring is certainly a reminder that in time, all things change.

Troy Car
Troy Car
troy trumpet
troy trumpet

Esperanza Gala: DACA Scholarship Initative

The University of South Carolina Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated is excited about our 1st Annual fundraising event, Esperanza Gala and Art Auction. In order for this event to be successful, we are donating 100% of the proceeds raised from ticket sales and donations towards the cause from supporters in our community. The positive response will allow us to create a DACA Scholarship Fund aiding low-income applicants. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an American immigration policy that provides temporary relief from deportation and a renewable 2-year work permit for qualified young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. If approved, DACA-mented youth can receive a Social Security Number, a Driver’s License, eligibility for higher education, apply for jobs,

We firmly believe that communities become great and businesses thrive where opportunity is deemed important, because the lives of its citizens are enriched. The USC Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated seeks to provide such enrichment to the community by promoting educational, cultural, civic, and economic opportunities for Undocumented youth through this initiative. We believe, through this financial scholarship we can cultivate the skills and talents of high school students to become leaders for the betterment of their communities.

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Follow these links to buy tickets and donate to our gofundme page.

https://www.gofundme.com/KDChiEsperanzaGala

http://kdchiesperanzagala.ticketleap.com/esperanza-gala-daca-scholarship-initative/

 

Palmetto Place is Family

Monday evenings are my favorite time during the work week because all of our teens pile into my office (and eat all of my candy) to tell me about their weekend and funny stories – along with the dozens of needs they each have for the week. Last Monday, as they were telling me about bank accounts, W-2s, job interviews, extra credit stuff, etc., one of them stopped and said "Ms. Jill, you know we all have so many needs as juniors and seniors, but I need for you to put one thing at the top of your list for tomorrow. Hannah, (a new 9th grade resident who is very quiet, humble, and sweet, who was in the house doing her homework) needs a new pair of shoes. She'll never tell you because she's so quiet, but I think she would like a new pair that are a little more girly than the pair she has. I can find out what size she wears for you."

Although I promised I’d put it at the top of my list, that wasn’t enough. They made me show them where I moved her need to the top of my to-do list sticky note. Then I tried to sing "We're all in this together" from High School Musical, but they weren't having it.

This is why I love my job. Because, even though I have 9 high schoolers that drive me absolutely insane all week, they support and love each other in a way that can never be described. Even though they'll never admit it, we're all family at Palmetto Place.

Written by Jill Lawson Director of Case Management

Sharing Samantha's Story

One of our volunteers put together a video about one of our former residents, Samantha, and her journey from homelessness to success. We are so proud of Samantha and all of her hard work!

Samantha came to us during her senior year in high school. She had been living with her family in a church’s Sunday School classroom. After Samantha’s graduation, the church notified her family that the classroom was no longer available for them to sleep in. They had to move out immediately. That’s when Samantha found Palmetto Place.

When she started college in fall 2013, Samantha’s Palmetto Place family took her shopping for dorm supplies. They took her to lunch on her first day and then said teary goodbyes. They were like any normal family – just a bit more unconventional.

Today, Samantha still comes “home” on the weekends. She plays with the younger children and tutors the older ones. We taught her how to drive and helped her buy her first car.

We asked Samantha to tell us what happened to some of her homeless friends. She replied, “All of the homeless teens I’ve met were from Palmetto Place and they’re all doing well for themselves.”

Samantha knows many, however, who weren’t so lucky. “Some kids from my old neighborhoods haven’t gotten the support I did at Palmetto Place. They are in prison, on their third child, or doing illegal things to get money.”

“Palmetto Place gives a chance to kids like me to make something of ourselves.” Samantha will always remember her time here fondly, as it led her to realize that “there are people out there who care about us and want us to succeed. Thank you!”

The Key to Success

One of our students headed back to college on Friday! What a great moment for her. Sad for us because we'll miss her but we are so proud of her. I'm not sure who's smiling wider - the Palmetto Place staff or our college student. This summer she worked two jobs so she could save up for a car. She is dedicated, diligent and determined. Working two jobs meant sacrifices. She didn't get to go on our beach trip because her priority was work. She missed some fun cookouts, ice cream parties, Super Hero Day and more - because work was important.

Ask her why she's excited to get a car and she'll tell you independence and the ability to drive to a job during the semester. If you had a car in college, think back to your priorities - driving around with your friends and having fun. But this teenager is focused on working and succeeding. And she's well on her way.

car keys

Thanks to a very special donor, she was able to go to driving school this summer and earned her driver's license. The next step was learning about car loans and securing her very first loan. And then the big moment! Buying her first car!

So off she went on Friday - driving to college, with one of our staff following her with a carload of things she'll need for her dorm room (more thanks to a special donor who helped stock her room).

Godspeed our special teen! We'll miss you but we'll see you soon.

Spring Cleaning

Today’s blog post comes from Victoria Infinger, our communications intern. When I think about spring cleaning, I think about throwing my scarves, sweaters and boots into a large rubber tub and pulling out last year’s pastel dresses and bathing suits. I wouldn’t give a second thought as to where to put my winter clothes. Easy breezy.

But what about the children whose clothes are donated? What about the children who need help with spring cleaning and have no idea what to do with their winter clothes?

Let’s take a step back and imagine this scenario:

You have a closet full of clothes – a mixture of sweet summer wear and bulky winter apparel. You’re fourteen years old and your body is growing, so maybe you’ve outgrown about 60% of the clothes in your closet. Now that you’ve pushed through your winter sweaters and thrown aside the clothes that no longer fit, you feel distraught. What’s left in your closet for you to wear?

The other day, two of our volunteers organized one room of closets. The room belonged to a group of younger, growing girls who were absolutely delighted to clean out their closets.

“I started thinking about cleaning/switching out closets when I was helping my own two girls over Spring Break,” said Chris Cerra, one of our lovely volunteers. “If I was pulling my hair out working with two closets, how in the world would the house parents be able to manage 20 closets? It was a practical way that my friend, Ruffin and I could help Palmetto Place.”

Chris and Ruffin checked to see what all still fit the girls in the room, packed up all their winter clothes and moved in some summer clothes. It was such a little thing they did that most people do every year, yet it was so big for these girls.

“They [the girls] got so excited when we would pull something out that fit them,” Chris said. “It didn't matter that is was older and had belonged to someone else, they were just grateful it was ‘new’ to them.”

Putting the cherry on the cake of this sweet story, Chris decided to bring the girls back new outfits from Target including shorts and a few coordinating shirts.

“When I gave each of them their bag, they started screaming and jumping up and down. I was struck by how something so simple meant so much to them,” Chris said.

We all take such small things for granted. Spring time, a time for cleaning, organizing and shopping for new summer outfits, might seem ordinary to us, but extraordinary to those who don’t have the same opportunities as us.

This time of year, children at the shelter are left with questions like, “What do I do with these clothes that no longer fit?” “Where do I leave my winter clothes when it’s no longer winter?” We organize our own closets at home, so why wouldn’t we organize the closets of our shelter children?

Our volunteers are spectacular. We are so thankful to have volunteers willing to make such little things bigger than life for our kids.

Dress for Success program receives $1,000 grant

Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter is pleased to announce it has recently been awarded a $1,000 grant from Colonial Life to help fund its Dress for Success program. The Dress for Success program will provide teen residents of Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter with necessary resources needed for job interviews, college interviews and military recruitment meetings. We’re thrilled to be able to provide our kids with the essential tools and skills for success. We want the teens at the shelter to feel confident and prepared for their future endeavors.

Each teen will receive at least one business outfit and pair of dress shoes. The staff at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter will help the teens build their resumes and prepare them for their interviews.

Palmetto Place Children’s shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year with medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter. We would not be able to provide any of these resources without volunteers, donations and grants.

For more information about Colonial Life visit: www.ColonialLife.com

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Home Is Where Your... Wait. Where is "home"?

By Jill Lawson.In addition to providing case management and adjustment counseling for Palmetto Place residents, Jill is a high school social worker, where she works mostly with at-risk students.

You’ve heard the phrase many times: “Home is where your heart is.” I know I use the word “home” multiple times a day, but recently I’ve been thinking about this very one word that has such a profound meaning.

Every day, at my full-time job, I hear teens say “I’m going to the house.” or “I stay at {insert neighborhood name}.” I never hear “I’m going home,” or, “I live at…” Why is that?

Many of my students, for a multitude of reasons, are Unaccompanied Youth. Most couch surf, meaning they are basically homeless and lying their head wherever they can at night until something better comes along. They lack a sense of home. For example, you know that uneasiness you feel if you’re staying away from your own bed for a few nights--maybe due to renovations, or a business trip? Imagine feeling this way every day. I simply can’t.

Fortunately, Palmetto Place is able to provide a home for four Unaccompanied Youth. Palmetto Place is not just a place to stay. It is a home to 20 kids who, for various reasons, have been displaced from their usual place of residency. After I thought about that word, home, I started listening to what our kids say.

“Ms. Jill, when we get home can I show you my project?!”

“Palmetto Place feels like home to me, now, and I feel safe.”

Our goal is to provide the three foundations of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs--physiological care, safety/security, and love/belonging--so that our residents can achieve the top two portions of the pyramid--self-esteem and self-actualization. But Palmetto Place doesn't just provide a sense of home for our residents. Our house feels like home to our staff, as well! Personally, I can’t think of any other place that I would rather spend holidays than with my Palmetto Place family. Home and family. That’s what we are about.