YMCA Youth & Family Services, the social services department of the YMCA, works to strengthen San Diego Communities by learning about the communities they serve and adapting services to help all individuals reach their fullest potential. Since 1970, the YMCA has expanded programming beyond the gym and the pool, bridging the gap for hundreds of thousands of underserved individuals and families in areas like behavioral health and family support, as well as transitional housing for young adults.
With the growing challenge of homelessness in San Diego County, YMCA’s Turning Point program is committed to providing housing and supportive services to assist young adults ages 18-21 in their journey to self-sufficiency.
Turning Point serves those who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless in the near future. These young participants often face extreme barriers to employment and education, needing guidance to pursue their goals and practice life skills. The program uses a positive youth development philosophy to ensure each resident is not only safe, but is also making improvements towards their physical, emotional and social well-being. This holistic approach allows the Turning Point staff to work with each young person in becoming more self-sufficient, productive and connected. Specific services include providing semi-supervised shared apartment living, case management, job development assistance, education assistance and on-site counseling.
Johnny Kong and Loreal Cooper, former residents of Turning Point, are a testament to the resiliency of the young houseless population and the positive impact the program can have. They came to Turning Point as strangers from chaotic, unstable situations in late 2015, but were highly motivated and driven young adults wanting to take advantage of all the services offered at Turning Point.
During his time at Turning Point, Johnny successfully completed several semesters of school, obtained a job and was promoted to a managerial role. Loreal worked for the YMCA and recently secured a new job with an increase in pay and opportunity for growth. Throughout their time in the program, both participants were leaders within the community and advocates for other young adults facing homelessness. Johnny also traveled with the YMCA to Washington DC and Sacramento to participate in forums about youth homelessness.
After successfully transitioning out of Turning Point, Johnny and Loreal are now roommates. They share an apartment in North Park and continue to serve as a support system for one another.
"In my time as a participant at Turning Point I was able to achieve goals and better understand myself as a person,” said Johnny. “I was able to interact with others in a more meaningful and personal way than I ever would have before. Turning Point provided me with a launching pad of endless possibilities of growth, and I am forever grateful."
Loreal said she owes so much to the YMCA and the Turning Point staff.
"Turning Point gave me great peace of mind which I really needed in order to take the next steps to becoming a successful young adult,” she said. “Time flew by so quickly. The connections I have made personally and professionally amaze me.”