We are using Fostering Change to showcase some of the people making a big difference in the lives of youth aging out of care. Meet Jerome Bouvier, leader of the Project Reach Out mobile drop-in centre working in the Tri-Cities area.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. Currently I am the executive director of ACCESS Youth Outreach Services. I have been in the role for over 10 years, starting it from a coffee shop in 2004.
I have been working in social services for over 25 years, from street outreach, youth drug treatment, to school-based prevention. I worked in Northern CA running a county wide program for runaway and homeless youth, am a motivational speaker/presenter/trainer, and am contract faculty at Douglas College CYC program.
I am very proud of the development of ACCESS’s award winning program, Project Reach Out mobile drop-in centre and outreach program.
I have found my purpose, motivated by my young and fast drug lifestyle that left me in a wheelchair due to a drug related accident. It was a gift. It brought me to this area of work.
I have come to discover it takes the troubles of youth to raise a village. Hear them and they will guide us… are we listening?
Q. What is the most rewarding element of your work?
A. One of the most rewarding elements of my work is the ability to create programs, seek and acquire funding to provide youth with resources that will help them reach their full potential.
After many years of being in the sector, to have a youth come up to me after years have gone by and say, "thank you, you made a difference in my life”. And to see many as successful adults today, that’s the reward.
Q. With regard to youth transitions, are there solutions or innovations you’d like to share?
A. Youth in transition face a daunting task. With limited resources, they are often left to their own devices. With a magic wand, transitional housing like Iron Horse, or individual living apartments with youth workers housed within, is a model I’ve worked with in California. Very successful.
Youth are the experts of their world and know what they need, or would like to see in place to help them transition.
In addition, more one-to-one workers that can support up to age 23. At the end of the day, youth are the experts of their world and know what they need, or would like to see in place to help them transition.
Find out more about Jerome Bouvier and his work.