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MyPlace aims to bridge the gap in teenaged foster ladies

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MyPlace Resident Director Alex Brigham (far left), MyPlace Board Chair Amber McKee (second from the left), and Executive Director Tammy Dindoffer (far right) give a tour to two community members (middle).

Story and photos
by Christine MacIntyre
Staff writer

MyPlace recently held their grand opening at their newly renovated home, located at 406 S. Blackstone in Jackson. As a nonprofit organization, MyPlace will be taking applications for up to six residents. They provide a safe, stable environment, emotional stability and actively engage in mentoring and accessing resources to help residents reach their individual goals for healthy self-sufficiency.

MyPlace is a rental living space for youth aged 16 through 21 who are aging out of foster care or can be placed in independent living. Officials work closely with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to bridge the gap from foster care to adulthood. Statistics demonstrate that many youths caught in human trafficking have come from the child welfare systems.

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MyPlace was founded on the premise that the young women living in foster care have the potential to thrive and excel in life if given a chance. Their mission is to reduce the vulnerability for exploitation by offering safe transitional housing and holistic support services to youth and young adults in the Greater Jackson area, with a preference to those in vulnerable circumstances. According to their website, myplacejackson.org, “Through community-based action and partnership with others, we will offer new futures by transitioning these youths to self-sufficiency.”

The number of children living in foster care who instantly become homeless when they turn 18 highlight why this program is necessary. Statistics dictate that 25 percent of individuals who have aged out of the foster care system suffer from the effects of PTSD. One out of every two individuals who age out of the system will develop substance dependency. There is a less than three percent chance for someone who has aged out of the foster care system to earn a college degree at any point in their life.

MyPlace acquired the four-bedroom, two-bath home through a partnership forged with the home’s owner, Jackson Interfaith Shelter, who has agreed to let MyPlace lease the space. The house initially needed interior remodeling – an extensive renovation took place utilizing around 50 volunteers from August through December 2020. Contributions came in many forms – from donations of money, time, materials, talents, and more.

The goal for the space was to provide a substantial – not merely adequate – lovely environment.

A glimpse into one of the four charming bedrooms at MyPlace.

When creating the space, McKee says the focus was, “What do we want the ladies who live here to experience?” The light and airy rooms are filled with simple yet chic décor and employ a color scheme that is both cheerful and serene. Each bedroom is named based on the feelings wished for future residents to experience – Peace, Love, Hope, and Joy.

“The whole project has been an expression of community at its best,” says MyPlace Board Chair Amber McKee. “It was all about finding the right way for different people to contribute and invest. Some people can invest money, while others can invest time and talents in different areas such as painting or even decorating.”

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MyPlace has secured its first year of funding and is aggressively seeking funding beyond that. For information on how to contribute, visit myplacejackson.org. Some ways to contribute to this effort include the sponsorship of an event, volunteer work, and donation of funds and materials.

There are other ways to contribute, such as praying for the youth and the board of directors as they develop this project into its full potential and become a mentor.

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