Maryhurst and Goodwill launch career support program for justice-involved, homeless youth

By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky

Nearly 4,000 Louisville youth experienced homelessness within the last year for a variety of reasons — from family breakups to substance abuse or mental health challenges. And one in ten Louisville youth were not working or in school prior to the pandemic. Though concrete data from 2021 isn’t yet available, experts believe that number could be as much as doubled.

Young adults 18 to 24 are especially vulnerable because they have aged out of many social service support systems. Without supportive services, they remain at risk of recurring homelessness, substance use and dangerous activity.

Career and support services partnership

To engage these young people directly, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky has partnered with Maryhurst Inc., Louisville’s oldest child welfare nonprofit organization, to provide mental and behavioral health services to disconnected youth in the community.

This grant-funded program is part of a larger ecosystem of career and support services offered by Goodwill in partnership with Maryhurst and KentuckianaWorks, the Workforce Development Board for the Louisville region.

“At Maryhurst, we know the incredible benefits that come with solid relationships and a support system that can help develop your strengths. Mental wellbeing is such a core part of a stable and successful career, and it too often goes unaddressed for young people. Our hope is that we can empower program participants to build foundations that can lead to fulfilling first jobs or important steps toward independent living.”

– Paula Garner, Maryhurst CEO

History of the program

Since the program launched in July, 150 youth have participated in a variety of supports including biweekly stress management sessions and one-on-one counseling.

The program serves young people ages 18 to 24 by linking them with career training, educational opportunities and job placement at “The Spot: Young Adult Opportunity Center.” This center, formerly known as the Kentucky Youth Career Center (KYCC), offers a wealth of resources for young adults who are looking for a way to connect to education or work. 

In addition, the program will help up to 20 unhoused young adults secure stable housing through comprehensive supportive services.

“The Spot is unique in Louisville in the wealth of resources provided in one location and in recognizing mental wellbeing as a priority that underlies achieving so many other goals. We are excited to partner with Goodwill and Maryhurst to make these life-changing resources available to young adults in our community.”

– Cindy Read, KentuckianaWorks deputy director

How to make a referral

A Maryhurst team member is embedded at the Goodwill program site once a week to be available immediately for referrals and interventions. Referrals often come from places like YMCA Safe Place, Louisville Metro Police Department, Jefferson County Public Schools and Jefferson Career and Technical College helping connect young people with mentors, resources and life skills classes at the Spot. Youth are also able to self-refer by visiting the Spot downtown at 612 S. 4th St., fourth floor.

“Youth aging out of the child welfare system are often left in very vulnerable situations with few support systems. YMCA Safe Place is proud to partner with these outstanding nonprofits to broaden these supports.”

– Steve Tarver, YMCA of Greater Louisville CEO and president

Maryhurst will focus on three areas with this partnership: education and quarterly trauma-informed care training for Goodwill staff, maximizing participant access to Maryhurst services and providing mental wellbeing tools to all program participants.

“Goodwill is thrilled to partner with Maryhurst, a trusted behavioral health provider here in Louisville. This program offers a renewed opportunity for success. With experienced clinicians, mentors and career planning tools, we hope to establish more thriving, future-focused young people throughout the city.”

– Dennis Ritchie, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky director of reentry services

For more information about the program and how to make a referral, contact 502-574-4115.

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