A Bridge to Break the Cycle
Celebrating 10 Years of the Path to Purpose Program
Early on as Director, I wanted to address the one question that always made me uncomfortable: “What happens to a child after they graduate?” I knew that Show-Me excelled at giving children a solid, stable home life, and did the best we could after graduation, but I wanted to do better. As a housedad for 10 years, I witnessed too many Show-Me kids stumble in adulthood; they would turn to their old support systems — a cycle we worked hard to get them out of — or turn to government support systems — a cycle we didn’t want them to get into. Houseparents, who are a vital link to these kids, didn’t always have the time and resources to help them. We needed to launch an intentional, targeted effort to resolve this weak area and improve our “restoration” results.
— Chad Puckett, Director
The need for a family doesn’t end when you turn 18 years old; it’s a vital foundation for your whole life. A young person should never “age out” of their primary support system – they should “age into” healthy adults through it. In June of 2012, select Show-Me supporters rallied to set aside resources and create a program that would bridge the gap to adulthood for current and former Show-Me children.
A Right-Fit Education and Career
Show-Me alumna, Judi Crawford, immediately accepted the challenge to lead this program as the Path to Purpose Coordinator. “Growing up here, I always had support even after graduation,” stated Judi. “But I knew of other alumni who did not know how to ask for the help they needed. This program was my opportunity to try to change that. My hope is that the relationship we build while they are here continues even after they graduate, so they know they always have a Show-Me family that they can lean on.”
Path to Purpose (P2P) strives to prepare young people for the adult phase of their life and walk with them as they cross that bridge to become stable adults. As they work through the program, they gain the skills, knowledge and insights they need to succeed. Judi works individually with each student to find a career path that fits their personality, capabilities, and goals. Starting in elementary school through hands-on workshops and field trips, students are introduced to economics and the numerous skills each job requires. Students continually dive deeper into their interested fields through job shadows, part-time work, and other career-exploration activities as they progress through P2P.
For Journey, who will graduate in May of 2023 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, her career path became clear after P2P gave her the opportunity to attend a week-long camp introducing her to graphic design. She discovered how her racing ADHD mind and high energy could actually be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. As a web designer and graphics artist, her restless creativity and energy can be utilized in a high-demand job that provides support for her future family.
Navigating Financial Aid
One hurdle most young people face is how to pay for the next level of training. The majority of P2P graduates are able to go to college without having to take out large loans. Due to their unique circumstances, our alumni often qualify for numerous scholarships, grants, and other financial aid if they can accurately present their case. The problem is their unique family situations do not fit into the standard categories for most forms. Before P2P, many Show-Me young people missed opportunities; now, they have a 10-year veteran to help them navigate the process.
“I would have gone clinically insane if wasn’t for Mrs. Judi,” Brendan, class of 2021, stated as he recounted the four weeks of patience and persistence it took to finalize his aid. “But, thanks to her help, I was able to receive a full-ride scholarship and even have some money left over for expenses.”
Tools for the Journey
Knowledge isn’t the only thing they need for this journey. From a reliable vehicle to a laptop for classes, Show-Me has committed to equip our graduates with the necessary tools they need to succeed. As a P2P graduate, they have funds available to help when needs arise: textbooks, unexpected repairs, down payments for housing, help with medications and utilities, continued counseling services, and various emergency situations.
“Nothing really prepares you for that moment when you look at your bank account, which only has $3 in it, and realize you have a lot of bills left to pay,” Dante recounted. The extra help came in especially handy for Dante, class of 2019, when his Precision Machining Technology degree program required over $3,500 of work tools or when his car broke down a week before he was supposed to start his new job.
Leaning on Wise Counsel
Sometimes all the young person needs is a little advice on this new adulting stuff such as taxes, car repair, or legal issues. If Judi doesn’t know the answer herself, she will lean on other members of the Show-Me family. Thomas Chaney, a Show-Me alumni and former car shop manager, inspects, repairs, and tunes up all donated vehicles. Jacob Crawford and the rest of the maintenance staff can fix almost any home problem. Lori Muhr, our Business Manager, can explain financial and tax issues. Elton Fay, a long-time attorney and Show-Me Board Member, has been there to advise on any legal matters.
“I expect all of our kids to work hard through the difficulties that life will continue to throw at them,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “But, just like my parents helped me along the way, when they have a need, I don’t want them turning to other sources for help. I want them to come “home.”