Intensive, unrelenting outreach is the cornerstone of JOY’s work with high-risk and entrenched youth. JOY intentionally targets and connects with those children and youth who do not purposefully engage with established programs. JOY understands and expects that for children who have been continually disappointed by adults, trust is something that may take years to develop. JOY youth workers expect that they will be met with resistance, mistrust and hostility at times. They use this as an opportunity to prove their commitment to the children – and to show them that they can be trusted to show up over and over again no matter what the child does to push them away.
JOY is not a faith based program in the traditional sense of the term. JOY serves all children of all faiths with no belief that one faith is better than another. JOY children are atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian. JOY welcomes volunteers of all faiths or those who have no religious faith. What JOY does teach and believe is that people are inherently good, that as long as you are breathing you are capable of change for the better and that every person matters.
JOY works through a documented change theory that relies on concepts of Belonging, Generosity, Competence, and Independence. Through understanding, practicing and living these values along with caring adults for correction and guidance, the pattern of poverty, crime and neglect can be broken by these children.
JOY is committed to partnering with community organizations, schools, established medical & social work communities, businesses and other non-profit organizations in the belief that no single program can resolve the overwhelming needs of these very high risk children. The volunteers that work with JOY youth understand the social norms, poverty barriers and cultural expectations that often prevent traditional programs from being effective in the lives of these children. They also understand how to access the care, basic needs and attention that all children need. Tutoring/mentoring, college visits, field trips and experiential lessons are the focus for these volunteers.
Partnerships have been developed with Rochester Area Family Y, Community Corrections, the Public Defender’s Office, Olmsted County Social Services, United Way of Olmsted County, Peace United Church of Christ, Workforce Development Center and an interfaith, multigenerational network of adults.