Monday, September 27, 2021

Giving second chance to at-risk and homeless students

Some high school students are forced into homelessness or may be at high risk of ending up on the streets because of careless parents, abusive homes, and family drug or alcohol problems. In addition, those who live at home often lack money for basic necessities such as food, clothing and school supplies.

It seems almost impossible that these kinds of problems could happen in affluent places like Huntington Beach Union High School and the Newport Mesa Unified School District, but for Robin Wood, it’s a fact she experiences every day for the first time.

Wood’s nonprofit, Robin’s Nest, supports drug and alcohol-free high school students in the Huntington Beach and Newport Mesa school districts who want to be productive members of society but who don’t have the family resources to do so. Huh.

“They want a good life,” said Wood, 49, who left his home in the DC suburbs when he was 17 and can relate to what’s happening to these kids. “They want to change their circumstances and so did I.”

Robyne’s Nest offers Food Pantry, a mental health counseling program, funding, job and resume training, life skills training—personal wellness, physical health, hygiene and personal finance—and transitional housing, among other services. . Wood and another case worker are the only full-time employees; The rest are volunteers.

“It’s our time to give back and change the future,” Wood said.

Yug Times Photos
Photos of children exiting the event at Robbins Nest on August 24, 2021 in Huntington Beach, Calif. (John Fredericks/The Epoch Times)

Since it was founded seven school years ago, Robins Nest has assisted 125 students and currently works with approximately 46 people at the school or who have recently graduated and need help getting off their feet. Is.

“We try to remove all the barriers so they can focus on school,” Wood said. “Once high school is in, we try to strike a balance of working on ourselves as well as trying to move on with schooling or a job.”

Wood found one of his students, Zane Alexander Daggett, when he was 16, recently moved out of an abusive home where both his parents were doing drugs. Daggett was in and out of Child Protective Services, connecting with the wrong people, and had no positive role models in his life.

“I didn’t really do much in school after fifth grade. I just gave up and started doing my own thing,” Daggett said. “I started going down a bright path, hanging out with a lot of bad people, doing a lot of unnecessary things that I shouldn’t have done. “

Wood quickly found a family to live with Daggett and got a construction job. She helped him join the Job Corps, a Department of Labor program that provides education and on-the-job training for 16- to 24-year-olds. Daggett completed 160 units to get his diploma, and within a year he dropped out and signed up for the Marine Corps, something he had always dreamed of.

Now 22, Daggett is about to complete his enrollment, is married, has paid off his car, and is ready to buy a home in Kansas, where he will work in chemical and biohazard cleaning. Daggett said meeting Robin changed his life.

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“When I met Robin, it was a big turning point in my life because there was someone out there who gave me a damn about what I needed for once,” Daggett said.

According to Wood, the three most important aspects of a robin’s nest are housing, mental health, and life skills. Finding a safe place to live is one of the pressures she hopes to ease for kids who are trying to navigate the stress of high school.

“I’m very protective of them because they’ve already gone through a lot,” Wood said.

Yug Times Photos
Yug Times Photos
Robin Wood works out of Robin’s Nest on August 24, 2021 in Huntington Beach, Calif. (John Fredericks/The Epoch Times)

With the help of volunteers, Robin’s Nest places students first in transitional housing, meant to support them for 24 months.

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Before COVID-19, some families used to support a handful of students in their homes. And in 2017, a supporter let Robyne’s Nest rent out their spare home for a reduced rate. When the pandemic struck, the host family’s schedule was closed, and only four children remain in transitional homes. The rest have found their own places, with some of their rent subsidized by Robbins Nest.

Licensed psychologists conduct weekly virtual and in-person mental health therapy sessions with students at a reduced rate to help them overcome past trauma and abuse. Wood determined that students must attend those sessions in order to remain in the program.

Life skills classes help students at Robbins Nest live on their own for the first time in their lives. They don’t know how to clean their apartment, budget and food. Personal finance is of utmost importance to Wood, as Robbins does not allow students to receive aid from federal programs such as electronic benefit transfers and Section 8 housing vouchers, with the exception of Nest Medi-Cal, which students use until Unless they can afford their expenses. private insurance.

Yug Times Photos
Yug Times Photos
Robbins Nest’s food pantry area on August 24, 2021 in Huntington Beach, Calif. (John Fredericks/The Epoch Times)

She believes that her experiences living on her own in high school, and past jobs ranging from accounting, insurance, retail, payroll management and now a mother of two, have prepared her to run Robin’s Nest.

Life skills classes have been successful, and Robbins Nest plans to teach students and adults who are not in the program how to lead a successful life. Those courses will not be free, and the profits from that venture will go to funding the organization.

Wood will continue to focus on Huntington Beach Union High School and Newport Mesa Unified School Districts, focusing on delivering quality support to these local children rather than adding more populous districts.

“She gives all these kids a second chance,” Daggett said. “I could have gone to jail and no one would have ever thought of me. She gives everyone a second wind and she doesn’t make you look like a badass. She looks at you like a kid who was failed by her own parents.”

Hawken Miller

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

Giving second chance to at-risk and homeless students
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