CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- There's a family in Carson City who's on a mission to help young people get a boost as they age out of the foster system. With the community's support, they are opening up a series of group homes called "Ventana Sierra."
The future tenants are at risk young adult who want a career or an education and are willing to work for it.
It's the vision of New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins, who is beginning a whole new adventure. Since Ventana Sierra earned its nonprofit status in May, the Hopkins family bought a short sale house and are working feverishly with some major support from Home Depot to get it refurbished and ready to open in June.
“It will be independent living with supervision during the day,” Ellen says. “At nighttime, they will be one their own because we want them to grow up and become adults in this situation.”
The home will house four to six young people at a time for a minimum of two years. The residents will have free room and board, but will be required to be in school or vocational training at least 30 hours a week.
“We want kids who are motivated…who want or have career goals, but no way to achieve them.”
The family has already recruited groups and individuals in the community to volunteer their time to be mentors for the tenants, and offer apprenticeships that give guidance on everything from careers to how to cook and take care of a home. Volunteerism will also be a key component of this living situation.
Kelly Foutz has worked with at risk youth for 12 years. She will be the house mom, and be there daily to give support and make sure everyone is following the rules of the home.
“There will be stuff like having a curfew for the first 90 days while we get to know them,” Foutz says. “Then, they’ll have to keep up a GPA of at least 3.0, and to help them sustain that, we will have tutors coming in.”
The Hopkins family hopes the educational resources and community support will be the catalysts for success and give a sense of belonging that some have never had.
“A lot of these kids have never really had a feeling of family, and so part of this is so they will have people here like a house mom…so they will have someone to go if they have questions or are afraid for whatever reasons,” Ellen says.
With the help of the community and grant money, this nonprofit hopes to open 10 of these independent living houses within the next five years. Even if you can't donate financially, they are happy to accept.skills in refurbishing the home or time with some of the residents.
If you want to learn more about Ventana Sierra or an upcoming fundraiser in April, visit ventanasierra.org