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Furnishing a New Life

The YSS Supportive Housing programs help youth move into their first apartment and create a path toward self-sufficiency. Although getting the keys to their own place is exciting, it often turns stressful as they move into an empty apartment—with no furniture, no place to eat or sleep.

That’s how a partnership was born between YSS, a foundation based in Florida, and a furniture retailer in Urbandale.

Youth in YSS’s Supportive Housing programs are experiencing homelessness because they aged out of foster care, they are human trafficking survivors, or their home environment is not safe. YSS offers them housing and a chance for a new life.

This mission caught the attention of Dr. Elizabeth Wynter, executive director of the Selfless Love Foundation. Based in Florida, Selfless Love provides resources for children in the welfare system.

During its Foster Youth Voice Month initiative, Selfless Love sought out impactful stories of youth and their experiences in foster care. While researching youth councils in other states, Dr. Wynter came across YSS.

Inspired by what she learned, she reached out to President & CEO Andrew Allen and arranged a visit. Dr. Wynter came to Ames, where she met with Andrew and toured the YSS transitional living facilities.

“Child welfare is not just a Florida issue,” explained James Minter, advocacy director for the Selfless Love Foundation. “By meeting people like Andrew at YSS, it become apparent to us that this is an opportunity to join forces and support youth voices where they need support.”

Selfless Love agreed to provide $1,000 for each YSS youth to help furnish their first apartment. With those funds, YSS turned to Homemakers Furniture in Urbandale. John Ingram Jr., Community Engagement Specialist for Homemakers, was excited about the opportunity to give back.

“Homemakers wants to engage with our community,” John says. “YSS reached out to me and said they have young men and women aging out of the foster care system and experiencing homelessness, and they have a grant to purchase furniture.”

Quickly, a partnership was formed to create a furniture kit—including a bed frame, mattress, table, and chairs—to be delivered to each apartment. John came to see the first furniture kit delivered to a YSS youth moving into her first home.

“When I saw her eyes light up, I knew this was the right partnership,” John says. “This was the right thing to do.”

YSS Advocate April White also witnessed first-hand the impact of the partnership when she helped a young woman settle into her apartment.

“She was thrilled,” April said. “She was so happy to have her own things—the furniture made it feel more like home.”

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