The Alliance For Youth in Great Falls is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise money for its new Youth Resource Center. The center provides resources for hundreds of at-risk youth in North Central Montana.
Two young men are already benefiting from what the center has to offer. Jon Brady and Dylan Ziobro have become familiar faces at the Youth Resource Center. They perform a number of tasks from maintenance to yard work, serving lunches and folding laundry. However, their role extends far beyond that.
“First and foremost I’m doing peer advocacy,” said Ziobro. “I’m making sure that the kids are getting their needs met. Whether that be socializing with them, (or) I’m making sure they have the hygiene products they need.”
“I’m making sure I listen to their problems,” said Brady. “If they’re sad or upset or anything, I just have to listen, be a shoulder to cry on.”
Dylan struggled with a loss of friends. It was a struggle that ultimately led to him being kicked out of his house and down a darker road. “Suicide seemed like it was the only way out,” said Ziobro. “I had a person who contacted the police and the police came and got me and took me to the hospital and I was in there for around four days.”
Jon became homeless after the death of his grandmother. “We couldn’t keep up with rent and stuff because she paid the majority of it,” said Brady. “So basically when she passed away it fell to my little brother and me and my mom.”
The pair learned about the center through Opportunities Incorporated, a Great Falls non-profit that was helping Jon earn his high school equivalency or hi-set certificate and helped turn Dylan’s volunteer opportunity into a job. “I would be here even if I wasn’t getting paid,” said Ziobro.
Both young men are complimentary about their time with the center, especially their relationship with Director of Operations Lisa Beavers.
“In the beginning, I would forget a lot,” said Brady. “So she (Lisa) basically gave me notes to write down. So I could write it down and forget about it.”
“Jon has become an integral part of the community we’re trying to create here at the YRC,” said Beavers. “I don’t think we could do this without him.”
“Lisa has always been here for me and she’s always trying to find me resources as well,” said Ziobro.
“He comes and spends probably 35 hours here a week,” said Beavers in describing Dylan. “He only gets paid for fifteen.”
Kylie Bowen, a youth navigator at the Youth Resource Center, has been equally impressed with Jon and Dylan’s transformation. “Just seeing them where they were when they came and now seeing them flourish and really wanting to make an influence and an impact in the community and just seeing their confidence grow is great,” said Bowen.
Recently, Dylan and Jon found out they would be getting their own apartment, thanks in part to an assist from Neighborworks.
“My reaction was surprise,” said Brady. “I thought we weren’t going to get it.”
“It was a big surprise and a good feeling that I know that I’m going to have my own place that I can go to now,” said Ziobro.
The Alliance for Youth is hoping to raise $350,000 to buy the old Victory Church building. To be sustainable, they hope to raise three million.
The Alliance For Youth website provides this overview:
Youth will have access to food, clothing and hygiene items, in addition to shower and laundry facilities. The resource center will not be a shelter but will provide an important space for youth to escape the elements and—for a short time—a chance to rest and refocus. Our goal will be, as expeditiously as possible, to divert youth toward stable housing, employment, education, and well-being.
Alliance for Youth will coordinate meals, which will be donated from local businesses, churches and/or community members. There will be a dry-serve kitchen for re-heating and/or preparing non-grease item foods.
Alliance for Youth’s Resource Center will utilize community partners to move the youth from surviving to thriving. Initially, case management support (housing, transportation needs, obtaining a birth certificate or ID, job skills, etc.), community support groups (AA, NA, SMART Recovery) and other life skills support assistance will be provided within the center. In the initial stages, programming will vary as we develop and track common trends of individual needs of the youth. With that said, we will strive to meet youth where they are and find creative solutions to their individual needs.
If you'd like to help, or learn more, call 406-952-0018, or email firstname.lastname@example.org