When an outsider looks at a vulnerable population, it’s be easy to think the solutions are simple. For a young person who is hungry, the obvious solution might be to acquire food. However, there is a significant difference in giving someone food versus teaching them how to budget, grocery shop, and cook a meal. This is where programs like RallyHaven play a crucial role.

RallyHaven is a supportive housing program at Choices for Youth which strives to fill a gap in services for young people aged 16-29 who, while able to fulfill their basic needs, are not yet ready to transition to complete independence in the community.

Youth often enter the RallyHaven Program with impressive survival skills; they have managed to eke by, keep themselves alive, and fulfill their essential needs. RallyHaven builds on these survival skills and teaches life skills.

Staff members assist youth in as many ways as needed, be it learning to cook, budgeting, connecting with resources and supports, getting medical attention, or any other necessary skill for living a healthy, stable lifestyle.

Sometimes the life skills are already in place for youth who come through the RallyHaven doors, but other obstacles and barriers are keeping them from a state of readiness. Mental health struggles, trauma, addiction, or a countless amount of personal hurdles — there are so many variables that may be working against a young person.

When they enter the RallyHaven Program, they are making a statement that they are ready to start accepting help and are prepared to work with staff to find a path that works for them.

When a young person decides to take part in the RallyHaven Program, they are taking a massive step in their personal journey towards self-empowerment and personal accountability; they develop the attributes, knowledge, and skills to confidently and successfully transition to independent living as members of the community at large.

They are connecting not only to a Choices for Youth program but to a system of community and social supports that will assist them as they work towards their goals.Last year, a RallyHaven youth approached staff with a goal: he wanted to become a tradesperson. RallyHaven staff assisted this youth in researching career training that met his needs.

For him, transportation was an issue so any program that he entered had to be nearby; working with his hands was a priority as this youth learns through doing; and, preferably, the program course work would complement this young person’s strengths and not the weaknesses he had struggled with throughout grade school.

When this young person chose a program, it was a surprise to learn that the institute had moved the program to a campus outside of St. John’s and the program required completion of multiple courses in his weakest subject area.

Instead of letting this information become a deterrent, RallyHaven staff helped this youth seek out a ride-share opportunity, and he worked in staff offices every evening completing extra practice work so that he wouldn’t fall behind.

With a ride-share set up and the help of a tutor this young person was able to tackle some of his biggest obstacles head on. This young person is now a certified entry-level professional in his trade of choice, is waiting on acceptance into the union, and is actively seeking long-term employment.

This is just one of many examples of how RallyHaven, and Choices for Youth’s programs, support young people in taking their next steps. Visit choicesforyouth.ca/didyouknow to learn more about how you can help at-risk and homeless youth in our community.

By Robert Cahill, Community Support Worker, RallyHaven Program