When you’re a typical 19 year old and a recent high school graduate, finding joy in life often comes easy. There’s the anticipation of heading off to college, the excitement of choosing a career path and the adventure of striking out on your own. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Joy Renfrow.
As a teenager, Joy faced many obstacles. She had little support and was working two jobs to make ends meet on her own. After she graduated from high school, Joy was living with her boyfriend’s parents with no solid plan for her future. She was struggling to find her own path and wanted to dictate something new for herself. That’s when she was introduced to Jacobs’ Place, the Omaha Home for Boys’ Transitional Living program.
Joy moved into Jacobs’ Place in the fall and it was immediately clear that she was there to achieve her goals of securing stable employment and moving into her own apartment. While Joy was extremely focused on her own aspirations, she also found time to impact those around her.
“Joy was an excellent role model for other residents and set the bar very high,” said Brandy Gustoff, Transitional Living Program Manager. “I would often hear residents say ‘Joy told me that’ or ‘That’s how Joy did it’ when asked about making a positive change in their own life.”
While working through the three phases of the Jacobs’ Place program, Joy completed over 100 hours of volunteer work, attended all required training classes and worked with a therapist. After her first month of employment, rent at her Jacobs’ Place apartment was established for the remainder of her stay. As with other residents, Joy had the capability to earn back a maximum of 80% of her rent upon completion of the program. Not only did Joy graduate and earn back all 80% of her rent, but she was also able to purchase a vehicle with her savings and secure a full-time job at a local communications company.
Now living in her own apartment utilizing the self-sufficiency skills learned during her time at Jacobs’ Place, Joy can truly appreciate all of the typical joys of other young adults her age.
Q&A with Joy
We sat down to visit with Joy about her experience at Jacobs’ Place and how she’s doing now that she’s graduated the program.
Q: How have you changed because of your experience at Jacobs’ Place?
Joy: I feel like I am stable and everything is in order. I have a much better job. Being at Jacobs’ Place opened doors for me that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
Q: What did you learn at Jacobs’ Place?
Joy: I learned how important it is to keep track of what you need to do on a daily basis. Jacobs’ Place taught me to rely on myself, not to depend on others to reach my goals. I also learned how to make backup plans. I got a lot of support at Jacobs’ Place.
Q: What can the community do to help people who are experiencing homelessness?
Joy: I would encourage anyone, anywhere to share their success stories with young people and be mentors.
Q: What are your future plans?
Joy: I’m going to keep working and start college. I want to study interior design and real estate.
How You Can Help
If you’d like to be a part of helping at-risk youth like Joy find their path to success and self-sufficiency, please make your online gift through the Omaha Gives! website today through May 24 by clicking the “Donate” button below. Your support will go even further during Omaha Gives! by helping us win cash prizes and earn matching funds.Donate