INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — They’re described as being a forgotten audience.
A nonprofit in Independence operates with young adults, ages 18-22, in mind since they’ve aged out of the foster system and often have no means to start their adult lives.
As it stormed outside Monday, leaders of a century-old nonprofit in Independence said its nine new apartments represent a shower of opportunity.
This Thursday, Drumm Farm Center for Children’s Compass Program will cut the ribbon on a new series of starter apartments. They’re known as Drumm Farm’s Duvall Campus. They’re fully furnished, and they’re meant for young people who’ve aged out of their child welfare programs.
“These apartments are 560 square feet. They include a bedroom and full bath,” said Brad Smith, Drumm Farm’s executive director.
Smith said counting Drumm Farm’s other apartments, the nonprofit now operates 20 units, allowing the center to provide a future for a larger number of young people. Residents won’t move in until September.
“Most of them live with us 18 months to two years. The idea is for them to live on their own. Independent living. Their own house. Their own car. Their own job and give them every chance to be a productive young adult,” Smith said.
The Duvall Campus is named to honor Tom and Carman Duvall, two generous business owners who donated the land, according to Smith.
“Our kids don’t end up here because of anything they’ve done. They’re not here because they’re in any kind of trouble,” Smith said. “What they are is young people who haven’t had the basic opportunities, based on a variety of reasons, sometimes family situations, sometimes other things beyond their control.”
The opportunities are proving to be a kickstarter, providing the encouragement and support young people need to find their footing in the world.
Smith mentioned a number of examples where Compass Program participants have found their own homes and employment.
“Young adults who are homeless are often the last people folks think about, and yet, they’re out there. It’s a growing population,” Smith said.
Shaq Carter, a graduate from Drumm Farm’s Compass Program, said opportunities like this one helped him find direction in life.
Carter said he credits this guidance for helping him locate his first home and a job, working for a local sanitation department.
“I`m not the person I was when I first came here,” Carter told FOX4. “(Apartment residents have) a place to stay. They’ve got counselors and tutors if they ever need help. Everyone who comes through here has graduated from high school. They’ve gotten help from donors.”
The new apartments are located close to Independence Center, where many of the soon-to-be residents can find jobs and even walk to work.
Smith said many of the new apartments are already spoken for, and there’s a waiting list for the others.
Drumm Farm also manages programs for at-risk teenagers and homeless adults. Smith said the group would love to build more apartments, but that would require more donated land, as well as money to build and furnish the new homes.