Yolo nonprofit helps foster youth furnish their future

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Life’s hard on us all, some more so than others. That’s why Make It Happen For Yolo County is helping provide transition-age youths in the foster system everything they need to turn their first apartment into a home.

Nearly a decade ago, Elliot Jones was working for the county when he discovered how difficult it was for youths transitioning out of the foster system. More specifically, furnishing and filling their first apartment with necessities. Jones took it upon himself to collect items and help these youths in this endeavor.

Soon after, Jan Judsen and Joan Garriets joined in and MIHY officially began in 2014.

“We’re all volunteer, so there’s no paid staff. Our mission is to help these transition-age youths that are primarily in the foster system. For the most part that’s about 18 to 24,” Garriets explained. “Furniture is donated by community members, so we vet them carefully because we have limited storage space. We take the basics like couches, dining tables, chairs and that sort of stuff. We have storage units in Davis and we set one of them up like a store for the youths. All the small stuff like kitchen appliances, dishes and glassware we provide new.”

Every foster youth’s situation is different, however, this nonprofit shows each and every one of them that the community values them. Although the pandemic slowed things down, MIHY hasn’t faltered in changing lives.

“The alternative is the youths get an apartment but they’re sitting in there with practically nothing, whatever they can scrap together. Just a few items will be the difference between four walls and an actual home,” Garriets said explaining the nonprofit’s impact. “They can put those personal touches that make your house a home, and it makes a big difference. Not only that, but they have the tools for cooking and other things and not rely on heating up a frozen dinner every day.”

Recently, the Kelly Foundation of Sacramento donated $2,500 to MIHY. With each furnishing of a new apartment costing around $500, five youths will benefit from this generosity. The results of donations like this speak for themselves.

“I truly appreciate everything the organization gave me. Getting items from Make It Happen took a lot of stress that came with moving into an apartment,” said one of MIHY’s youths. “I still can’t get over how great everyone was and how generous this program is. It made a huge impact on my move.”

Joining in MIHY in providing aid to transition-age and foster youths are their supporters: Save Mart Cares Foundation, the Kelly Foundation, Biberstein Social Action Fund, Mikuni Foundation and Davis Sunrise Rotary.

MIHY partners with and receives referrals from: Yolo County Child Welfare, Yolo County TAY Mental Health, Yolo County TAY Probation, Yolo County Court Appointed Special Advocates, Yolo County Dependency Services and EA Family Services.

As a nonprofit, MIHY does rely on donations and volunteers. One of their biggest revenue generators is the Big Day of Giving held every May. To learn more about donating visit mihyolo.org.

For any and all questions on how to help MIHY, one can email them directly at info@mihyolo.org.

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