Andrea first came to My Friend’s Place when she was just 15 years old.

Andrea first came to My Friend’s Place when she was just 15 years old.

Disconnected from an unstable family that gave her little support or stability, Andrea* spent years on the streets, trying to care for herself, overcome the trauma of her childhood and remain safe. But she never gave up her dream that the future could still hold more for her. For Andrea, My Friend’s Place became a haven of safety and connection, providing her with community, compassionate care and the resources that helped her to imagine and build a new life.

Almost 10 years later, Andrea is nearly 25 years old and a new mom to a baby girl. With support from My Friend’s Place, Andrea has been able to move into a new apartment, and is working to find a job to support her family.

Andrea is eager to work, but like so many of the youth at My Friend’s Place, the trauma she experienced as a young person set up significant roadblocks in her social and emotional development. Andrea struggles to master many of the skills, including time management and the ability to navigate workplace relationships and stress, that people need to be successful.

Now, a new employment program at My Friend’s Place—The SHIFT—aims to change that and prepare young people like Andrea for success as they enter the working world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An intensive work preparedness program, The SHIFT helps homeless youth build internal assets and job readiness skills in the safe and supportive environment of My Friend’s Place. The SHIFT provides each youth intern with 22 weeks of case management, specialized weekly support with an Employment Specialist, twice weekly peer support groups and more than 150 hours of onsite experiential learning through a supported, paid internship at My Friend’s Place. Unlike more traditional job readiness programs, The SHIFT provides both job skills training and social and emotional learning and development to support the success of homeless youth in seeking and maintaining employment.

As part of The SHIFT, our youth interns visit workplaces as part of their career exploration and workforce-readiness activities. During one field trip, Andrea sat down with a female design executive for a one-on-one mock interview. The interview took a surprising turn when Andrea told the designer she wants to work with cars but feels hindered by the male dominance of this field. The designer encouraged her to ignore stereotypes and pursue her dreams “no matter what anyone says.” The designer shared her own journey, and her pursuit of a non-traditional “female” activity— hockey—which resonated with Andrea. After the interview, Andrea thought to herself, “If this person faced similar obstacles and challenges and overcame them to achieve her personal and professional dreams, then why can’t I do it, too?”

In that moment, Andrea said she understood and appreciated how far she had come, from entering services at My Friend’s Place during a turbulent time in her life as a 15-year-old girl, to almost 10 years later, when she is having interviews with design executives, graduating from The SHIFT, and preparing to transition to a brighter, more stable future.

Please partner with My Friend’s Place to ensure that young people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles can continue to access transformative programming like The SHIFT. With your support, Andrea has come so far, but she is just one of 1,400 youth who count on My Friend’s Place every year. Be there for the next young person who turns to My Friend’s Place for help, safety, and care by giving a gift of support by August 31.

*Young person’s name changed for confidentiality

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