Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. advocates are going above and beyond this holiday season. A community-based alternative to youth incarceration and other behavioral health and social services institutional placements, YAP hires advocates who live in neighborhoods of those they serve. The advocates provide intensive, one-to-one mentoring and work with their teammates to connect youth and families to resources that nurture their gifts, bolster their foundation and help them to give back.
New Brunswick, NJ YAP staff members partnered with Suydam Street Reform Church to provide a Nov. 29 post-Thanksgiving meal for youth enrolled in their programs. YAP staff cooked and served the full course meal, which included turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and all the fixings, including cakes and pies. Dameon Stackhouse, a social work intern in the New Brunswick office who grew up in a nearby neighborhood, delivered an inspirational speech. A week and a half earlier 10 children enrolled in the office’s diversion program handed out 225 turkeys to their neighbors. Suydam partnered with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health System and the New Brunswick Police Department to purchase the turkeys.
“The church has been known as a beacon of light in the community, which has a lot of needs. I’m not just saying this because I’m a member; the church has been a great partner to YAP youth and families, and the entire community,” said Rebecca Escobar, New Brunswick YAP Program Director.
On Dec. 15, New Brunswick YAP will partner with Suydam for the church’s annual holiday party and toy distribution for close to 1,000 neighborhood children under the age of 10. Youth enrolled in YAP’s diversion program and their family members will serve as volunteers for the event.
Last week, Philadelphia YAP staff solicited the donation of 40 turkeys to distribute to the families of families they serve. “They also prepared and provided meals for 85 young people in the community,” said YAP Regional Director Randall Sims.
The Baltimore YAP team gathered donations from individuals throughout their community and provided a food basket to a YAP youth and his family. “The Nephilim Motorcycle Club provided the turkey,” said Baltimore and Howard County, Md. Program Director Eddie Moore. “Licensed child care provider Rosie's Little Angels provided a gift card to the family and will also be supporting us with Christmas baskets.”
YAP employees encourage the public to join them in supporting youth and families by making contributions to the program of your choice here: www.yapinc.org/Donate.
YAP, a 43-year-old nonprofit operating in 100 communities in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves 19,000 families annually. The organization is scaling its proven, cost-effective model to serve as a community-based alternative to out-of-home youth justice, behavioral health and child welfare placements throughout the U.S. YAP believes and demonstrates that outcomes are better when individuals – even those considered high-risk -- are Safely Home, receiving individualized mentoring, family advocacy and tools to realize, build upon and share their strengths.