Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 16, 2021 - 74

CAUSES
Dream
BIG
A
street corner
in Nashville. That's
where the idea for
The Finley Dream Center combines housing,
the Dream Center took flight.
It was a brisk afternoon in 2013,
and Lisa Wittke Schaffner, then
executive director of the John
Jordan Foundation (JJF), stood
shoulder to shoulder with her
colleague, Matt Martin of Social Advocates
for Youth (SAY), staring up at a blocklong,
two-story brick building. A group of
Sonoma County education advocates had
traveled 2,300 miles to learn about several
innovative programs in the city, including the
Oasis Center-a once-abandoned commercial
building that had been transformed
into a community center supporting more
than 4,000 at-risk teens and their families with
crisis, housing and career support.
" We can do something this big in Sonoma
County, " Martin said to the group. " I know
just the spot. "
At the time, he served as chief executive
officer for SAY, a non-profit founded in 1971
as an alternative to juvenile hall. SAY has
been providing housing to youth since the
1990s, and its Tamayo Village, opened in
2005, was their first dedicated building for
affordable, long-term housing with 25 beds.
But the building isn't large enough to bring
other essential services to struggling youth,
from counseling to career support.
Martin had been eyeing a vacant hospital
in southeast Santa Rosa, Calif., owned by
Sutter Health. " There are homeless kids
on the street, and this building is empty.
We know how to find these kids, " Martin
told his colleague, who led the John Jordan
Foundation from its founding in 2012 until
2021. " I have convinced Sutter to donate the
hospital to us. But I need your help to build
our dream. "
Wittke Schaffner was impressed. " This is
exactly the kind of innovative project we look
to invest in. A center of this kind that helps
young people with so many aspects of their
lives is the way to truly support them. "
counseling and career services for at-risk youth
under one roof in Wine Country. Here's how
the ambitious project became a reality with
support from the John Jordan Foundation.
BY LISA M. MATTSON
" It was the perfect wraparound plan, "
Jordan said, recalling the proposal. " We both
saw the vision right away and wanted to be
involved in something this groundbreaking. "
JJF made a commitment to invest
$1 million over five years, from 2015 to
2020, half to help build the SAY Finley
Dream Center and half to sustain the
career programs. (The Finley Foundation
was the largest contributor to the creation
of the center, hence the name.) SAY took
ownership of the Sutter Warrack hospital
in 2015 and spent one year renovating and
retrofitting the 52,000-square-foot campus
to become a center where housing and other
support services could be combined on
one site in multiple buildings, dramatically
increasing social impact.
But SAY wanted to dream even bigger.
The organization constantly refines its
formula for breaking the cycle of abuse and
hopelessness among youth and their families,
focusing on four pillars: housing, counseling,
crisis and careers. The career piece was
something that Martin felt strongly about
expanding beyond mentorships and job
fairs. Martin knew that to truly change the
lives of struggling young people, they would
need basic skills to get a job and the advanced
skills necessary to maintain and grow into
fulfilling careers. Research shows that youth
experiencing periods of disconnection are
more likely to engage in risky behaviors, are
at-risk of victimization by adults, earn less
income, and face higher rates of incarceration
and unemployment.
Co-locating career services along with
housing and counseling at the Dream Center
would allow SAY to provide youth with more
integrated services to stabilize their
lives, avoid disconnection and grow
successfully into adulthood.
Ideas started to flow. SAY
and JJF came up with a plan to
create a dedicated center within
the Dream Center, providing teens
and young adults with one-on-one
coaching for resume writing, mock
interviews, job search, computer access and
other services. In 2016, the John Jordan
Foundation Career Hub opened its doors.
The John Jordan Foundation provides
ongoing financial support for career hub
operations.
Martin left SAY in 2017, but his legacy
endures. Social Advocates for Youth serves
3,500 youth per year, up to age 25, between
the Dream Center, its school mental health
clinicians and Street Outreach team. Anita
Maldonado, the current chief executive
officer at SAY, has continued to build upon
the foundation of this groundbreaking center.
In 2020, SAY opened its Family
Cottage, a home for pregnant and parenting
youth, and in the spring, when schools first
started to close due to the pandemic, SAY
pivoted to telehealth in order to continue
providing mental health services to youth.
" The John Jordan Foundation is an
invaluable partner in SAY's work for Sonoma
County, " Maldonado said. " Not only does
the John Jordan Foundation Career Hub
serve youth looking to become self-sufficient,
Jordan's contribution to our operations helps
us have the greatest possible impact on all
of the vulnerable youth we serve. " T
A large portion of the proceeds
from Jordan wine sales fund
the John Jordan Foundation,
which works to fight the negative
effects of poverty in communities.
74 THE GRILLING ISSUE

Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 16, 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 16, 2021

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