As a devoted friend of our mission, you know that Mercy Home provides a safe and loving home for children in need. But our supporters often wonder—what happens after a young person leaves our care?
You may be surprised to learn that the average stay at Mercy Home is 16 months. Some children are with us for only a short time. Others might stay for five years or more. It all depends on the young person’s unique situation and needs. No two children are the same, and no two backgrounds are the same, either.
Some young people will ultimately be reunited with their families in a safe and healthy environment. We work with those families—by connecting them with resources, bringing them in for family therapy, and holding support groups for guardians. Some young people go home on weekends to practice the new skills they learn in our care.
Other young people stay with us until they are ready to go to college or to transition to independent living. Even when they are no longer living with us full-time, our children will always be part of our Mercy Home family. We want them to know that we will always support them and care for them. So how do we stay connected to those young people?
The answer lies in one of our most important programs: AfterCare.
“AfterCare is another home for those who may not have a place to call home.”
This program is for our young people after they no longer live with us full-time, hence the name AfterCare. Through AfterCare, we provide therapy, mentoring, and community events. We help our young people find their way as they continue with their education, apply for jobs and scholarships, find stable housing, and begin their lives as adults. We welcome them back home, just like any family would.
Rita, one of our former residents, started with our AfterCare program when she left Mercy Home to go to college. “Being connected to AfterCare right after transitioning was the best choice I could have made!” she says.
Rita knew she needed some extra guidance to navigate her new environment. “It is not easy stepping away from a place where you had all of your resources in one building,” she says. Our AfterCare coworkers were there when she needed them and continued to encourage her. “AfterCare has helped me get through school,” Rita says.
To Rita, AfterCare not only provides support with academics, work, and housing, it also provides something bigger. “AfterCare is another home for those who may not have a place to call home,” she explains, “where we are allowed to grow, make mistakes, build friendships, and explore the world with caring people that want the best for us.”
By taking opportunities to help plan group events, like community service trips and academic retreats, Rita has used her time with AfterCare to continue to step out of her shell and grow.
Today, Rita is a college graduate. She has her bachelor’s degree in social work and experience working with adults with disabilities. She is also starting a family of her own. Thanks to you, our AfterCare coworkers have been with her every step of the way.
“I’ve had good times and rough times since leaving Mercy Home,” Rita says, “but it is always helpful to know that if I have no one else to call on, I can call AfterCare for support.”
In the future, Rita hopes for success in her career and for her family—and she hopes to repay the kindness you have shown. “I would like one day to give back to Mercy Home for the help and support they have given me,” she says.
Thank you for supporting our young people—today, tomorrow, and forever. You let them know they always have a place in our Mercy Home family.