Gabby Finds Opportunity Through Bridging the Gap Program
When you meet Gabby, she will likely have a big smile on her face. She is thriving in safe housing, working steadily at King Soopers, and saving money to buy a car. She is building critical skills to succeed in life, all while supported by Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap.
When Gabby came to Mile High United Way two years ago, she was homeless. At only 11 years old, her father was already out of her life and her mother was in and out of prison. While trying hard to stay in high school, Gabby found a job and worked every day. She temporarily stayed with her grandmother, who struggled with mental illness and would make Gabby leave the house at 5 a.m. every morning. Before going to work, Gabby would try to find somewhere to stay warm.
With the help of Bridging the Gap and her Independent Living Coach, Anna Marie, Gabby used a housing voucher for 18 months. During that time, she saved every penny and worked hard; after the voucher period ended, she found a tax-credit apartment she could afford and is thrilled to have a place of her own.
“When Gabby finally got into her own apartment, she was so thankful,” said Anna Marie. “It took her quite a while to adjust to not having to worry about being thrown out into the cold.”
Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap serves youth transitioning out of foster care or the juvenile justice system. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, up to 37 percent of youth aging out of foster care are homeless and an additional 25 percent to 50 percent have unstable housing. In Colorado, only 27 percent of foster youth will graduate from high school on time. Youth who come to Bridging the Gap are homeless and in need of additional services. Independent Living Coaches are staff who are trained by Mile High United Way to support youth, work one-on-one to find housing, make a plan, and navigate complicated systems like Human Services and higher education.
Gabby is a hard-working and respectful young lady. She has kept her job for more than two years and has been promoted to supervisor. Through Bridging the Gap, she has taken financial literacy classes and started a savings account for her first car. With the help of her Independent Living Coach, she was able to pay off a traffic ticket which was preventing her from getting a driver’s license. Now, she is eager to get a car so she can take the driving test, all with the goal of being able to have reliable transportation to go to work.
Last year, Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap served nearly 200 youth like Gabby with one-on-one coaching, housing and career support. Other Mile High United Way programs served 90,000 youth on their path to high school graduation and the workforce.
Youth like Gabby are save and thriving because you invest in the community.
Great things happen when we LIVE UNITED!