I’m excited to share with you some news that my friend, Rebecca Welsch founder of HALO, informed me of the other day while planning INSPIRE. They’re opening a second location for BOYS in Jefferson City.
If you’re not familiar with HALO, HALO’s work is focused on keeping one more child from spending one more day alone. They provide housing, healing, and education to children who need it the most. HALO believes that every child should have the support of a family. In other words, love.
What made you decide to expand and make the transition to a Boys Program for HALO?
Throughout the 10 years we have been serving Jefferson City youth, there has been such a rise in need for boys to have a safe place to go in the evenings. There are so many boys who don’t have anyone to care for them when they go home, no one to check in on how they are doing in school, and nobody to hold them accountable. This causes a drop in school performance that leads to higher dropout rates and down the road, higher crime rates. But the need is not just for a safe place, it is for boys to see what a successful man looks like. They need to hear that someone believes in them. It may be through a tutor who is helping with math or someone who teaches them about credit cards and finance. They need other men to teach them how to be in the world. And that it is possible to break the cycle of abuse, neglect, and poverty. Too many of our young boys are slipping through the cracks because they don’t have a strong role model teaching them how to be young men. This is why we started the boys program.
How will the house and the way it operates be different? The same?
The boys program will be a safe-haven in the evenings for them. It is tucked in the trees in a perfect location between the high schools. Although the boys won’t sleep there, they will treat it like their home just as the girls do. They will all come in for tutoring and share dinner together. They will have a place to do laundry and shower if they need, and they will have people who care about them there every night. That includes staff, volunteers, and their friends who are in the program.
What is the greatest need for the boys in our area?
I truly believe that boys in our area, and everywhere for that matter, need strong role models in their lives. They need examples of men who are serving others, who do the right thing, and who are not afraid make the right choice even when it is extremely difficult. Boys in Jefferson City need role models in their lives who are with them for the long haul. They need friends they can call on when their car breaks down or when they are faced with a tough decision. That is the foundation of a family we provide at HALO. The boys program is not just a place for kids to be safe. It is a place for them to see what it is to be successful and for them to be given the chance to reach success for themselves.
One of the lessons I have learned at the Girls Home is that our most successful girls have a true, authentic role model who becomes part of their lives forever. This is the same model we will use at the boys program.
Do you plan on having any programming where both houses come together or will these two houses stay separate?
We may do some programming together from time to time. Especially the bigger celebrations like Holidays and parties. We are in discussions on how that will all take place but we are excited about it.
What is your vision for this house and how is it different from the girls home?
We want this house to be filled with love for the boys we serve. It will be a warm place where the boys can be themselves. We want them to take ownership in the program and make it their own, almost like a fraternity. They will set academic and life goals and when they achieve a goal, it will be celebrated.
The house will be open after school for male high school teens. Male volunteers will be led by our Boys Program Manager, Darian Pruitt. Their goal will be to help at-risk and homeless boys from Jefferson City identify a path to a positive future by providing dinner around the table, authentic mentoring, tutoring, therapeutic art, and other future-focused programming. The program will be offered year-round, Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. with a future-focused-curricula to equip our youth with life skills to help them to learn independently in a safe environment. The boys will also be given a chance to learn valuable life skills through the entire process of making a handcrafted HALO Makers product, along with marketing and selling the final piece. Our kids work hard to leave the “at-risk” label behind and finally be seen as a great kid with the potential to do great things in our community.
When is it expected to open?
We are hoping to open at the beginning of September.
What is HALO’s greatest need at the moment?
Our greatest need at the moment is for a van to provide transportation for the program. Our volunteers are able to drive the boys to and from home but it would be ideal for us to have our own van, not only to take them home but also to take field trips with the entire group.
Thank you to Rebecca for sharing this with us and for all the work that you and your team at HALO do for the children in need in our community. Much love!
Pin this image:
Special thanks to Friend of the Blog: