The Moving On program is one of numerous youth-focused programs of the McKeesport-based Auberle Foundation Moving On works with young people ages 18 to 20 years old whose Children and Youth Services cases have been closed. The program is sort of a preparatory measure that helps the young men transition into productive lives on their own, rather than allowing them to simply try to fend for themselves without a little more help from caring adults. located in Duquesne, the Moving On program serves just 10 young men at a time. ray said he understands the importance of the work done with the young men in the program he was a part of, which is why he is a counselor. “I enjoy the work, because I understand the importance of it… It’s a little stressful helping others with their goals, but it’s taught me a lot,” ray said. “being on this side of it, where I’m the helper, you find that you know what’s best for someone, but you can’t always convince the person to agree with you.”
Achieving Goals Another of Auberle’s programs is the 22year-old GOAl program, which helps young men ages 16 to 21 with life skills, education goals, job goals and other life objectives. until two years ago, the GOAl program was a
satellite program of the nonprofit and had been housed in a house along beach Street in McKeesport. There, 10 young men were housed and educated through the GOAl program. Two years ago, Auberle Foundation built a new facility to house the GOAl program on the nonprofit’s campus near renziehausen Park in McKeesport. Prior to having the structure built, Auberle officials involved staff members who work in the GOAl program to provide their input regarding the design of the planned facility. The GOAl program residents also were involved in the design planning, said Charles Wade, program manager for GOAl. “It gave them a chance to claim ownership of the place,” Wade said. Now, up to 24 young men can live in the facility and 20 reside there now. The facility is staffed by three or four Auberle counselors at all times of the day and night. That level of adult attention doesn’t mean that the counselors are picking up after their young charges— they are not. Actually, life skills such as housecleaning are some of the lessons the young men in the GOAl program receive. each week, two of the residents of the GOAl house prepare all of the meals for themselves and the other 18 residents, meaning three meals per day, seven days per week. One of the residents also will have the task of cleaning the facility’s bathrooms, while another resident will have to clean the kitchen all week, and likewise with all of the other housekeeping tasks needed to be done to keep the GOAl house ship-shape. readers who are parents of teens might be shocked to know that these young men even do their own laundry. On the plus side, the youths live in a modern facility that includes a large living room with a flat screen television, a recreation room and a laundry room and other state-ofthe-art facilities. each of the residents has his own room, too. All of the young men in the GOAl program have court orders compelling them to be there. Prior to coming to Auberle, some of the GOAl residents were in the care of CYF, while others were previously at juvenile detention centers such as Glenn Mills, George Junior republic, Schuman Center and Newcastle Maximum Security. The young men all have similar goals of establishing themselves on their own in productive lives, Wade said. The innovative Spring 2010 | IN Fox Chapel Area |
effort recently was named the Allegheny County residential Program of the Year, said Annie Schultheis, spokesperson for Auberle. Part of the reason for the success of GOAl is the consistency that is provided by the adults working with the program’s residents, said Wade, who is also a pastor. “What I do here is more ministry than anything else… We treat a young person after we understand what made him wayward,” he said. Providing young people with consistent examples of living by values they stand for is part of what Wade and other staff members of GOAl teach their young mentees, Wade noted. “I pride myself in telling a kid ‘You’re talking to somebody who will never lie to you… I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to improve the quality of your life,’” he said. Teaching practical, daily skills such as housekeeping or even how to tie a tie is another aspect of the work. each resident has an Individual Service Plan that sets him on a course toward independent living and full employment. A resident’s progress is charted by staff members from week to week. Quarterly reports on a youth’s progress are provided to the court. Staff members dealing with the residents include counselors, who work with the young men on daily shifts. Specialists are staffers who interact with the resident’s probation officer and caseworker. each resident also receives help from a therapist, who meets regularly with the resident. All of these professionals are involved in the weekly meetings tracking the resident’s progress. Depending upon the progress of the youth, he might need to stay with Auberle a few months longer than anticipated in order to achieve his goals, Kelly said. “Our main goal is never to assume a kid should know [something], but to teach him those things he should know,” he said. Part of the job of the youth-focused professionals also is providing a positive and consistent approach to dealing with the youngsters, Kelly added. “A lot of these kids have never been told, ‘Good job,’” he said. Auberle officials are hoping to start a program similar to GOAl for girls in the future, though plans for such a girls-centered program are not set. “We have kids who are 16, 17, and 18 years old who can’t read or tell time,” Wade said. “We’ve actually put several kids in college… We try to get them prepared to step out on their own.” For more information on the Auberle Foundation, visit the group’s website at www.auberle.org.
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