The NEST *Nurturing *Empowering *Supporting for *Tomorrow

Over 200 young people, pre-K through 12th grade, are qualified as homeless or living in transition each year by Georgetown ISD. The Georgetown Project opened The NEST day shelter one year ago as an outreach to teens in 9th-12th grade who are homeless or living in transition. The NEST served 50 local highschool students in the first year with basic needs and many other supports to help teens stay in school, graduate, and move toward a positive future. NEST stands for *Nurturing *Empowering *Supporting for *Tomorrow.

THE GEORGETOWN PROJECT BUILDS A BIGGER NEST

Collaborations Enhance Services For Local Youth Living in Transition

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The Georgetown Project is pleased to announce that the first overnight safe haven for youth living in transition will open October 1. Just two years ago, The Georgetown Project opened The NEST as the first drop-in center in our community focused on serving the unique needs of high school students qualified as homeless or living in transition. “The dream was always to offer overnight care but we needed to begin serving these kids to learn how they navigate life after the school bell rings,” said Leslie Janca, Executive Director of The Georgetown Project. “Lack of local shelter has been an identified community need for almost a decade. We are extremely excited to announce this new progress so quickly after opening the drop-in center in late 2011. ”

The NEST Drop-In Center will now function as The NEST Host Home, offering overnight care for Georgetown youth up to age 17 for up to 21 days at a time. The Georgetown Project is collaborating with STARRY in the unique host home project. STARRY, part of the Children at Heart Family of Ministries, operates the SAFE Runaway and Homeless Program in Round Rock, in addition to established Foster Care and Counseling programs. “STARRY has experience in sheltering youth, in licensing foster and host home families, and is a licensed child placement agency—all essential elements of moving into overnight services,” said Janca, “We approached this project collaboratively, as we do all our programs at The Georgetown Project, and STARRY is the perfect programming partner for The NEST Host Home.” Children and youth placed in the home will experience the comprehensive support services offered by both organizations and from host parents who reside in the home.

The Georgetown Project also seized an opportunity to collaborate with Georgetown ISD in order to continue The NEST Drop-In Center. Now that the former location has transitioned to an overnight host home, it can no longer serve as a drop-in center due to strict confidentiality guidelines in place to protect youth placed in the home. “The Georgetown Project is thankful to GISD for the opportunity to relocate The NEST Drop-In Center into the first floor of the old Richarte High School (2201 Old Airport Road). We have made a few cosmetic updates to the space and it is now open,” Janca explained, “We are offering STARRY an office in the drop-in center for intake, counseling and case management, which will further enhance services for local youth and families.”

The NEST Drop-In Center will continue to provide evening meals, laundry, counseling, tutoring and other support services from the new location for GISD high school students qualified as homeless, at-risk or living in transition. Hours will also be the same, M-Th, 3-8 pm for students, and donations/tours on Fridays 10 am – 3pm.  The phone number is 512-943-8056. 

The Georgetown Project is a local nonprofit organization with almost 17 years of youth development programming experience and a vision that Georgetown will become “A community where no child is hungry, hurt, alone or rejected and where all children and youth believe they are loved, respected and treated with dignity.” Janca said expansion of The NEST services to include a host home and a drop-in center fits within both the vision and mission of The Georgetown Project. “While our vision is for Georgetown, our mission calls us to collect child and youth data, identify resources and needs, and work closely with others to fill the gaps. We work with anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children and youth. We’re a small organization with limited resources and collaboration is key to meeting the needs.”

Richard Singleton, Executive Director of STARRY said, “STARRY is looking forward to working with The Georgetown Project and The NEST in providing services to homeless youth and youth at risk of homelessness in the Georgetown community. In providing a Host Home family to provide services for youth up to age 17, STARRY is building on nearly 25 years of experience in providing emergency shelter, counseling, foster care and runaway/homeless services for Williamson County youth and children in crisis. In addition to the fully licensed Host Home family, STARRY will offer case management, counseling, intake and family services out of offices in The Nest Drop-In Center. STARRY appreciates the opportunity to participate in the collaboration as it fulfills its mission of providing services to youth where their need is greatest.”

The Georgetown Project, by fulfilling this identified community need and offering both a host home and drop-in center, continues to serve as a catalyst for creating partnerships that improve outcomes for children and youth. “The NEST project has been blessed by many caring hearts in Georgetown, and we are grateful. We will need community support more than ever as we work to sustain these two important services over time,” Janca said.

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For more information, please call Leslie Janca, 512-943-5198 or email at jancal@georgetownproject.com. Youth development programs offered by The Georgetown Project include After School Action Project; Bridges To Growth Parent Center, Community Interaction Partnership, Kid City, The NEST and The Georgetown Project Collaborative for Children & Youth. All programs and partnerships are collaborative in nature and are deeply rooted in the Developmental Assets framework of positive youth development.

Meal providers with questions, please contact Keirsten Bumgardner, The NEST Drop-In Center Coordinator, at 512- 943-8056 or email: georgetownprojectnest@suddenlink.net

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For many first generation college students, a college degree is truly a ticket to a different life. Lea Cantu, a 21-year-old Dell Scholar at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, will graduate in 2014.  Her journey from high school to college has spanned homelessness, depression and hearing loss, and yet she’s persevered. Lea’s grit, determination, and resourcefulness are, perhaps even more than her academic abilities, the qualities that we view as most predictive of students’ ultimate success in completing college and obtaining a degree.   more about Lea

Did You Know?

Over 200 students in GISD each year are qualified as homeless under the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Act. Legislation defines the term "homeless" as children and youth who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This includes students whose families live in doubled-up situations due to economic hardship, as well as older teens who live in a state of transition without the care of a legal guardian.

School districts are mandated to provide certain services during the school day for students qualified as homeless. But what happens after the bell rings?
Approximately 75 GISD students each year are 9th-12th grade students who meet the definition of homeless. This is the target population for The NEST.
The NEST is a program of The Georgetown Project and is a safe haven after school for teens living in transition with access to an evening meal, snacks, hygiene essentials, clothing, showers, laundry facilities, tutoring, counseling (individual and family), job readiness training, college prep, credit recovery, Drivers Education Online, Enrichment/Summer programming and other support services in a positive environment with caring adults.

The NEST is located in very close proximity to Georgetown High School; however, all 9th-12th grade students, Eagles and Patriots alike, qualified as homeless by GISD, have access to services.

The NEST Goals:

  • Provide a safe, nurturing environment of dignity and respect during out of school time that encourages a positive view of the future.
  • Provide basic needs and linkages with local resources to stabilize daily life.
  • Provide counseling for family reunification if practical and safe.
  • Provide support services needed to complete high school and prepare for a self-sustaining and healthy lifestyle.
  • Provide opportunities for serving others and for building positive connections with caring adults in the community.

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