Our Independent Living team at DePaul works hard to support young people ages 18-21 as they transition from life in foster care to life as adults. That support is still there, even though it looks a little different these days, due to COVID-19.
“I miss them just as much as they miss us. But we are finding ways to stay connected with them and assure them that we are always here for them,” said Carrie Elswick, IL supervisor/specialist.
Many of the young men and women in our Independent Living program rely on visits and regular communication with a DePaul team member. With safety and social distancing in mind, team members are meeting in front yards and other places they can stay 6 feet apart, as well as having video chats. The goal is to continue providing IL youth with guidance, compassion, and direction in navigating the difficult journey from adolescence to adulthood, no matter what.
“I have been nothing short of amazed with how staff have embraced the changes in order to support our youth in a way that continues to fulfill our mission of opening doors to hope and belonging. Our youth have been receptive to the support and continue to display such resiliency,” said Chelsie Wilson, IL supervisor.
Recently, an intern in the Charlottesville office created an extensive list of “Boredom Busters” for IL youth to give them ideas of activities they can do while staying home. The list also includes virtual tours they can take and workout videos to encourage them to stay active.
Check out the “Boredom Busters” list here.
Besides entertainment, DePaul staff are making sure IL youth have all the supplies they need to stay safe and healthy. Many of our IL youth face financial and logistical barriers which make it harder to access hygiene and cleaning supplies right now. DePaul staff are working with the community to make sure each young man and woman in the program has what they need, whether it’s hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays, or snack foods.
Like our other programs, the Independent Living team has taken the COVID-19 changes in stride, choosing to adapt instead of quitting. That is truly making a difference in the lives of the young men and women they serve.
“The hardest part of this transition is being alone but knowing that DePaul is here for me whenever I may need them makes everything a lot easier,” said one of our IL youth.