Since opening its doors a year ago, the Peer Resource Center, a program of Youth Moving On, has served almost 500 young adults, mostly youth formerly in foster care, from throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In a particular way, the odds are stacked against these young people. Traumatized by a system that minimally offers a safe place for them while separated from their families, they are typically ill-prepared for the challenges of independence and without any significant resources.
Of the youth, formerly in foster care, who have visited and received services at the center, over 42 percent are homeless, finding shelter with friends or wherever they can, or struggling to find a secure footing midst daunting challenges. The lack of appropriate, supportive, and affordable housing makes these young people most vulnerable, at risk of violence, and susceptible to questionable activity that may lead them toward involvement with law enforcement.
It is within this context that the PRC was established to provide a safe haven for these young people. It is a place where they can find resources, much-needed services, and welcoming peers and professionals dedicated to their well-being. More than the care that may be offered, it is the cadre of well-prepared and committed peers, volunteers, and staff who have made the difference in the success of the PRC’s first year of operation. These young adults have returned to the center for almost 6,000 visits because they know that they will be respected and that every effort will be made to make a lasting change in their lives.
Armando Gracian’s life has been changed by the PRC. The 19 year old was able to find two jobs, one at Starbucks as a barista and one at The Cheesecake Factory as a host, through the workforce training he received there. He’s also gained invaluable support. “[The staff] is great to talk to, and I am open to their feedback so I can become wiser. They help me grow and become successful,” he says. “It’s a blessing, I look around at a lot of people my age and they don’t have support like I have.”
What impresses me the most about the young adults served at the PRC and all the programs offered by YMO is their determination to improve their lives. There is no substitute for such resolve, and it indeed is the reason why each of them, like Armando, is successful.
Join us as we celebrate PRC’s first-year anniversary on Thursday, June 26. Lunch and refreshments are served at noon. Youth awards, speakers and PRC film debut begins at noon. At 2 p.m., guests can participate in games, photo booth, music, food, prizes, and more. Find out how you can support this important initiative of Hillsides.