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In this five-part series, we spoke with staff and young people living and working in programs that have received grants from the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Some are Tribal organizations; others are non-tribal entities that serve a large number of Native youth. Here’s what Danny, a 19-year-old resident of Ain Dah Yung Transitional Living Program, in St. Paul, MN, had to say:
I was living on my own, performing at a club, making enough money to get by. But then I got injured, and I had to move in with my mom. She had a dependency on narcotics, and when she lost her house, that left us both with nowhere to go. So I eventually found this place, and it’s helped me a lot.
I’ve always had goals and dreams, but this place has given me the structure and stability to be able to achieve them. One of the staff here, he’s the lodge manager and also a case manager, and he puts his heart and soul into this place. I see him here more than I see some of the residents. He has a strong, positive work ethic, and he’s been a mentor to me. He supports my goal of becoming an actor, and with his help and seeing his dedication to his job, I realize what I need to do to make my dream a reality.
Here, I feel safe and secure. I have great role models. They encourage us. They answer questions. They’re here if we need to vent about something.
If this program wasn’t here, there would be a lot more youth in trouble. There needs to be a lot more programs like this one.
The Transitional Living Program provides longer-term housing and life skills classes to 16- to 22-year-olds who don’t have a home to return to. In FY 2009, 218 programs received a total of $41 million. New grants are expected to be awarded in 2012. Read the past announcement. Sign up to be notified when new grant announcements are released.