Journey House, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, is a non-profit that supports former foster and probation youth as they transition out of the Los Angeles County foster care system. The organization emphasizes higher education in order to achieve economic stability and career advancement. We recently sat down with Executive Director Tim Mayworm, as well as Case Manager Briana Barcena, to learn more about this wonderful organization.
Describe how you came to start Journey House.
My background is in education. I was a high school teacher in Pasadena and a chaplain in a juvenile detention facility. I was working with probation kids aged 14 to 18. I wanted to put two and two together to try to get the best education possible for those in the foster care and probation systems. These teenagers suffered from dysfunctional families, as well as sporadic education – going from one school to another, moving, etc. Their chances of succeeding in college were slim, so I started Journey House as an educational program so the young men would get the opportunity of receiving college preparatory classes they need in order to be qualified to get into a college or university. In 2007, we opened our programs to young women.
How has the Ebell grant supported your mission?
The Ebell grant has been extremely helpful in helping our female students continue their higher education. Your funding helps us support them, whether through books or whatever they need for their education. This is a great need as each of them is a young adult who has no family funding and is not eligible for federal funding, so this helps them to not be homeless, and to get a living wage and have a profession to fall back on.
What is the “Sisterhood” program?
The program is a safe place for our girls who share unique living situations, circumstances, and traumas to talk and empower each other. We host events including educational workshops, games, meals, and spa days, and send out a newsletter. It’s a wonderful opportunity for women to feel comfortable – in other words, they don’t have to explain their backgrounds. It’s very uniting for them – to feel empowered to know that they are good people and that they have talent and gifts and they can’t be limited to their childhood experiences and being in the foster care system. I believe the Ebell’s grant also helped support this program, which was great.
What are your plans for the future for Journey House?
To expand – the number of former foster youth coming to us for assistance is rising and the need to support them is rising. For the arts program, our plan is to get more of our clients involved and showcasing their talents – music, theater, art – because former foster youth are not seen as having creativity and talents.
What are you most proud of for what Journey House has accomplished?
I’m most proud of the successes our individuals have had with their education and their own desire to give back to the former-foster community. A lot of our women get higher degrees – a lot of them in social work – and there is a strong desire to give back to the community. We also have a speakers’ panel for those who want to share their experiences and advice with those younger than them in the former-foster community. Also, our performing arts program serves as a way to express their experiences in the foster care system. So I’m so proud of the contact our individuals still have with us and their desire to give back in those ways.
Tim went on to talk about how interested Ebell members could help support Journey House’s mission through sharing their professional skills and talents with these young women, such as through counseling, teaching cooking skills, sharing advice about the arts or drama field, or providing mentorship – even having women older than they are talk about what life is like growing up. Or perhaps someone experienced in party planning to help plan next year’s 40th anniversary celebrations!
You can read more about Journey House at www.journeyhouseyouth.org