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We who envision a compassionate, just and life affirming society in which each member has an opportunity to realize the fullness of her/his human potential, believe that in the lives of our youth lie the sacred seeds of our future, each one inherently worthy of love, security and nourishment. Born of a community response to the particular needs and struggles of young women and their children who have become separated from their natural families and have drifted toward the margins of society, the mission of Mercy Center Ministries is to do all that is possible to provide them with the support necessary to their growth and development as successful and responsible adults, parents and members of the community. In furtherance of this mission, which seeks to leave no seed untended, we commit ourselves to:
*provide safe and stable transitional congregate residences and supportive services to displaced young women (and their children) within an environment that assists residents to increase their self esteem, develop personal, educational (and parenting) skills, and to achieve a level of independence appropriate to their circumstances.
*provide outreach services in the nature of professional intervention, information and referral services to young women and men and their families in times of conflict or crisis.
*develop temporary and/or permanent housing and provide supportive services for economically disadvantaged young women and their children who are in transition from congregate to individual living environments and are seeking to increase their personal and economic independence.
*advocate publicly on behalf of teens and young adults who lack a voice within the community.
*demonstrate to all with whom we come in contact a respect for the dignity of every human person regardless of sex, race or religion.
Mercy Center Ministries, Inc.
wp: mission 3/95 rev.
Mercy Center Ministries has three residential programs, one designated for homeless/runaway females ages 16-21, and two others for homeless females 16-21 who are pregnant or parenting. We are a voluntary program. A young woman may be referred by anyone, or she can refer herself, there are no barriers to our services unless the youth is psychotic, currently abusing alcohol or drugs, or has a recent history of violent behavior. We refer those youth to more appropriate programs. Most, if not all of our residents are seeking shelter from abusive, addicted or neglectful parents. They desire structure, stability and safety. Our program provides the youth with case management, counseling, food, shelter, recreation and independent living skills and parenting training. All residents are required to re-enter school in either their home district or the district where our house is located. The residents have the following responsibilities: daily chore, school, part-time employment, weekly counseling, budgeting, cooking once per week, weekly house meetings, a formal dinner Sunday through Thursday, and a strict set of rules for curfew, television time, bedtime, and phone usage. Residents are granted privileges based on their behavior and how well they work on their goals. In our program youth learn to navigate the transportation system, cook, clean, do laundry, manage medical appointments, manage their time effectively, budget their money and keep their space clean. The residents in our mother child homes balance all of this with the added responsibility of parenting, we do not provide child-care unless the resident is at work or school. The goal for our residents is to break the cycle of abuse, poverty, dependence on others for their needs. A resident may leave our program at any time, and we discharge residents who have proven over time to be abusing our program, or who we assess to be in need of services we cannot provide such as inpatient treatment. Residents may stay up to a year. At the time of their discharge they typically have acquired housing through the Local Department of Social Services. The goal is for the resident to return to family whenever possible. Our primary emphasis is on personal responsibility, education and independence. The vast majority of our clients leave, and return with news that they are gainfully employed and have been using the various skills they acquired in our program. The proof of our programs success is in the long life we have shared in the community and the thousands of teens and children who have passed through our doors and learned to sustain themselves and become responsible community members.
- Melissa Austin, LMSW
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