Director’s Corner

By David Villiotti, Executive Director

 “Who, among you, has an 18-year-old living at home?” I ask the assembled masses (well, at least the half dozen or so attendees in the room.)  A number of hands are raised, and then comes the follow-up. “And how many of your 18-year-olds could live on their own without a weekly check from you?”  All of the raised hands drop, heads shake from side-to-side, and comments such as, “Are you kidding me?” are muttered along with the typical stories of adult children, in their mid-to-late 20’s still living at home.

Yet, this scenario, a common interchange whenever I talk with a community group about our Transitional Living Program (TLP) is the very challenge faced by youth that age-out of New Hampshire’s child-protective or juvenile justice system.  One such person confronting this challenge, and succeeding, is Rob Kirby.  Rob was placed at Nashua Children’s Home at 16 and returned home at 17.  He eventually moved in with friends, but shortly after his 18th birthday, requested tenancy within the TLP where he pays a modest rent.  Rob is currently employed at Villa Italian Kitchen at the Merrimack Premium Outlets.  He enrolled at Nashua Community College in January where he has completed five courses, earning all A’s and B’s.  Rob is enrolled in four classes at NCC for this fall semester.  Rob has this to say about the TLP: “The TLP is a nice place to live with very affordable rent.  The opportunities are endless and on top of all that it helped me really straighten out my life and become an A student in college.”

Another TLP tenant and former Nashua Children’s Home resident, is Samantha Ahearn.  Samantha is a graduate of Souhegan High School, and has entered her freshman year at Plymouth State University.  She worked this summer at a local nursing home while living at the TLP.

Our national statistics weave a troubling story.  According to the Child Welfare League of America:

  • One-quarter of foster youth report having been homeless for some period within 2.5 to 4 years after leaving the foster care system.
  • 30% of the nation’s homeless adults are products of the forster care system.
  • 46% of former foster youth have not completed high school.

The numbers on employment, incarceration, early parenthood and health for former foster youth are no more encouraging.

The TLP, providing housing in a 5-unit apartment building and a single-family home, works to reverse these trends.  As our efforts are centered on youth that have aged-out of public systems, very little public money supports this initiative.  Instead we cobble together private dollars from fundraisers and grants from private foundations and corporations.  Through the ongoing generosity of community partners such as the CLub National Charitable Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, Cogswell Benevolent Trust, Ann DeNicola Trust, teh TJX Foundation and annual funding from the City of Nashua Review/Comment Program, young people like Rob and Samantha, blessed with their own volition, initiative, and will to become productive members of their community, are offered a softer transition to the challenges of adult living.


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