I hope you are enjoying this Christmas season and that you are taking the oportunity to celebrate the gift of Jesus and to acknowledge God’s blessings in your lives this year. At JEMfriends we are excited to celebrate the coming of Jesus because He is the hope that we have to share with our JEMyouth; how awesome it is to have a real hope to share that can fill the empty hearts and heal the broken places! We are also grateful to God for His provision of another girls’ house this year. In July, we had an increase in young ladies applying to JEMfriends, and we could not provide all of them with housing in our one girls’ home. We decided to use some money we had saved to open a second one—our Donnybrook home; and God filled it within a month!
Alexis and Jenna, two girls at this home, feel that housing is a very important part of JEMfriends’ ministry to them. Alexis shared, “JEMfriends has provided me with a stable housing environment and with people who have continually shown they care. The continued support has helped me become the person I am today, and for that I am very thankful.” Jenna also shared, explaining that JEMfriends gives girls the support they need to make healthy progress by helping them reach goals step by step, by providing a roof over their heads for minimum cost, and by being available to provide emotional as well as physical support.
I also feel that housing is an important aspect of our ministry as JEMfriends. A recent study by the University of Chicago showed that the programs available to the homeless in Ada County had no room available for youth between eighteen and twenty-five, that thirty-three percent of these programs had waiting lists, and that another thirty-three percent had to turn youth away in the previous year. What is hard about these statistics is that JEMfriends is one of those programs that has no more room and has a waiting list. Today, I have on my desk an application from a youth who ages out in three days, but we may not have room to take her if we cannot sustain our second girls’ home.
We want to continue housing eight girls, which requires two homes; but there are more youth, like the girl whose application I have, who need a place to go. One goal we have for the future of JEMfriends is to be increasing the number of beds available to the aging-out youth in the Treasure Valley. Our immediate need in accomplishing this goal is establishing reliable support for our second girls’ home. While we have incredible housing support though our monthly givers (Our guys’ and one of our girls’ homes are ninety-
percent funded through monthly giving), we have no funding for our second girls’ home. We would love more monthly housing partners; but right now we are needing some large end-of-the-year donations to keep the Donnybrook home open.
Also, because we are renting our homes, we are not always able to maintain a stable environment for our youth. This summer, the lease for one of our houses expired; and the owners chose to sell it, which left us with thirty days to move our girls to a new home. That was a challenging and disruptive event, and we would like to avoid similar circumstancs by pursuing long-term housing options. If any JEMfriend would consider donating a house or renting one to us long-term, at a discounted rate, we would be thrilled.
Although housing is our biggest need right now, we have had other needs specific to Thanksgiving and Christmastime that several of our JEMfriends have helped with. Thank you for being such great support. Merry Christmas!
Liberty Barrett, Executive Director