Friendship Place’s AimHire program is proud to unveil Before Thirty, an innovative new project to help at-risk young people, launched in January with the hiring of Tiffini Jackson as Youth Employment Specialist.
“This is a dream job for me,” says Tiffini. “It’s a passion of mine to be able to provide resources and services – even just encouragement – to help someone create their own vision for their life.
Before Thirty is different than other programs because it takes a person-centered approach, focusing on the individual, instead of following a fixed system. I take the time to get to know someone, so that I can meet each and every one of their needs. It’s a matter of sitting down and seeing where they are and shedding light on opportunities they may not have been exposed to. It feels good to me to see where they started and how I was able to help them be successful.”
“At-risk” can mean many things, says AimHire Director Jermaine Hampton. “HIV, LGBTQ, mental illness, history of addiction, lack of education, aging out of foster care, history with the criminal justice system. Family poverty alone puts youth at risk.”
Right now, for example, Tiffini is helping a family of 10 who are living in a shelter – a mother, father, mother-in-law and seven children. They were referred to Before Thirty by Cardozo Education Campus, where two of the family, 16- and 17-year-old daughters, are students.
“When it comes to dealing with teens, you’re dealing with a whole family,” says Tiffini. “I’ve referred the father to AimHire for help getting a job. The youngest children have ADHD and a lot of behavioral issues. The 17-year-old is pregnant; I’m helping her boyfriend find a job so he can help support the new family. Once the baby’s born, I’ll be helping them find childcare, WIC, clothing, food, whatever they need.”
With just a month on the job, Tiffini already has a caseload of 16 individuals, and each person brings unique needs, goals and dreams. “One young man is not motivated because he’s stressed and suffering with depression, so we’re exploring things that could help him feel better. He likes art, and I’ve been developing an arts program to give Before Thirty participants an outlet for creative expression. We’re also looking for volunteer work for him.
“When someone’s had a lot of trouble in their life, they need someone to believe in them,” adds Tiffini. “I know if I believe in someone, I can help them find stability and direction and vision.”
Before Thirty – like the rest of AimHire – is 100 percent privately funded.