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Zach gets encouragement, support from TL Program

March 24, 2014
Zach, right, and TL Specialist Jennifer Dyer

Zach, right, and TL Specialist Jennifer Dyer

Zach agreed to wear long pants if the temperature dropped below freezing – until then, he was going to wear shorts.

And as the temperature outside hovered just above the freezing mark, Zach, in cargo shorts, shared what the transitional living program has meant to him.

“I couldn’t have done it on my own,” he said.

Zach’s a sophomore at Tennessee Tech and plans to teach English at a high school in his hometown. Now 18, Zach entered state custody at 11 years old when his father surrendered his rights. He wouldn’t describe his younger self as stubborn or defiant, but did conclude he had a way of doing things and wasn’t open to being told how. He was shuffled through numerous foster homes before he found stability. In many ways, it was Zach who changed.

“I matured a lot during that time,” Zach said. “I realized I needed to stop burning bridges.”

About a year ago, he entered Youth Villages’ transitional living program. Jennifer Dyer is his specialist.

They’ve worked together to help Zach with money management, housing, insurance and also time management.

Zach has an academic scholarship with requirements he must continue to meet. Jennifer has also helped Zach maintain relationships, specifically with his former foster family.

“He’s still close with that family,” Jennifer said. “But Zach needed encouragement to maintain that relationship and keep up with them.”

And encouragement and support are Jennifer’s primary role with Zach. Transitional living partners youth ages 17-22 with specialists who support the youth in finding safe housing, achieving stable employment, continuing education or job training, reuniting with birth families if possible, and building healthy adult support systems.

“Zach does things on his own,” Jennifer said. “But he asks for advice and help. He worked through some issues with trust and is now involved at school and makes friends easily.”

In fact, Zach learned quite a bit about forgiveness and friendship.

He sat face-to-face with his father after not seeing him for six years, and keeps up with his biological family as much as he can. He’s a generally happy person and is quick to smile. And that’s an asset moving forward.

“Jennifer has helped me quite a bit,” Zach said. “She keeps me on track.”

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