Planting Seeds for IVY - InVest in Youth Inc

Planting Seeds for IVY - InVest in Youth Inc

From Christina Downey

Exciting News! IVY is now official, and we are already meeting needs! We have a building in the heart of Norwalk and should be fully open by fall. We are raising funds to finish renovation. Please donate and share!

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Get to know IVY:

Our Goals:

1. To provide children and youth going into foster, kinship or adoptive care with their own belongings (clothes, bedding, wall art, toys, etc.) through an on-site shopping experience

  • This “shop” will be set up to make the merchandise appealing to youth and to allow an experience that will make youth feel like they are in a “special” shop. 
  • The “shop” will be available to the public at certain times to allow sales of merchandise to help fund the continuing operation of IVY

2. To provide regular “shopping days” for youth in care in order to continue to build connections and show them that they are special

  • By allowing youth in care to come in on a regular basis – most likely monthly – to “shop” we will have opportunities to build connections with the youth so that they have a broader network of caring adults that they can turn to for help.

3. To provide mentoring and tutoring service for in care youth

  • Youth who have been through trauma often have not been able to focus on education or have disabilities that make education challenging. Caregivers are often overwhelmed with everyday tasks and do not have the time to provide tutoring. IVY will match willing tutors (retired teachers, current teachers, advanced high school students looking for a way to serve others, etc.) with these children to help them become more successful in their education.

4. To help teenagers “aging out” of agency services with classes or on-going training/mentoring in financial planning, budgeting, cooking, job searching, resume building, and seeking secondary educational goals

  • Often youth in care reach 18 and are on their own with limited training in independent living. IVY would provide a location for independent living classes in cooking or budgeting as volunteers are available in these areas. One-on-one mentoring 

5. To provide opportunities for court mandated service for youth/parents in care

6. To provide support groups, recovery groups, and/or retreats for caregivers, parents, and youth impacted by foster/kinship care or adoption

7. To provide respite for caregivers

8. To recruit foster and adoptive parents and match kids in care with potential families

9. To provide a social network marketplace where needs in our county can be met by willing members of the community – matching resources with needs on a social media level

Our Founders:

IVY is the brainchild of two families who have a passion for children and a history in foster care, adoption and kinship care. Jeff & Julie Westcott along with Krzystof & Jess Jurczuk have been involved in caring for over 31 children in temporary or permanent care for a combined 15 years. In addition the Westcotts received an award as Foster Family of the Year for the state of Ohio in 2016. As each new child passed through their homes they began to see areas in which support was lacking for the needs of this precious group of children. Several years ago they started a support group – Coffeeshop Moms – for foster, adoptive and kinship caregivers. During discussions among this group of parents it became more and more obvious that there were very few, easily-accessible resources in the community. Meanwhile the Department of Job and Family Services continued to call them with requests to meet needs that aren’t met by the governmental agency.  Needs were matched with willing hands and hearts in the community whenever possible.  After several years of discussion a building was miraculously available. They could now begin a permanent non-profit for supporting and helping these caring families who are working through trauma and constant change to help kids in need.  Renovations on the first IVY location began in January of 2019.  With limited funding, volunteer manpower was needed.  Many in the community stepped up to work on the transformation.  The dream of a location for a specialized shop providing items for kids transitioning into new homes or facing life on their own as they age out of the system was finally a reality.  The Westcotts and Jurczuks continue to be amazed at the outpouring of support in the Huron/Erie County area for this venture. 

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