Haaaaave you met Jennifer Shafer? Jennifer is a Program Coach at Hearth Transitional Living Program. Hearth offers transitional housing to homeless young adults age 18-21 in a supervised, yet independent, living environment. Youth receive counseling, vocational and educational training, parent education services, independent living skills training, and other supports as needed for his or her individual situation.
Let’s learn more about Jennifer!
1. What is your favorite memory from Youth Focus?
My favorite memory is when all our staff and youth went out for dinner to celebrate one of our youth’s birthdays. She said it was the only thing she really wanted for her birthday, and that is so indicative of how valuable the relationships we build with the youth really are.
2. What is one thing you wish the general public knew about Youth Focus?
That we are here, and that our only motive is to help support our youth in creating a better future for themselves.
3. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
In my first year of Grad school, I researched the factors make the difference between success and failure in youth. Time after time research has found that when a youth has just one person who believes in them, whether that is a coach, a teacher, a youth pastor, a family friend, that relationship is always the key factor in their success. It has been my goal to either be that one person or to make sure each of the youth I work with have that relationship with another trusted, responsible and caring adult.
4. What led you to Youth Focus and working with young adults?
As a senior in high school, I made the hard realization that I wouldn’t be able to afford college. Despite a life long plan to go straight to college, I made the decision to enlist in the Navy when I was 17, which required permission from my parents. They were not thrilled with the idea and initially said no, and refused to sign the paperwork. My school counselor at the time sat them down and we talked through my plan, and the reasons why I’d made the decision. By the time that conversation was over my parents were willing to sign the papers. If it wasn’t for my school counselor I’m not sure I would have made it to where I am now, and when it was time for me to separate from the Navy I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people.
5. What are three words to describe Youth Focus?
Genuine, opportunity, connection.
6. What advice would you give to your teenage self?
You’re going to make it, so try not to get so caught up in planning your life that you forget to live it.
7. If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?
A multi-tool, a pot, and an electronic device pre-loaded with all of my favorite music and a handful of books I haven’t had time to read.
8. What’s your most-used emoji?