HomeFULLness program to house at-risk youth

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

ALABASTER — More than 60 percent of foster care youth leave the child welfare system without identified housing, becoming immediately homeless once they turn 18. In an effort to address this problem, Alabaster-based nonprofit Second Shift has started a transitional housing program for at-risk foster care youth called HomeFULLness.

HomeFULLness will provide not only a safe environment but also meaningful connection, life skill education and support services to help young people get on the road to independence.

“Homelessness can be a matter of life or death. One of our clients died this year as a direct result of her homelessness,” said Tammy Spence, founder and executive director, Second Shift. “Our homeless youth are often unable to seek the services of homeless shelters because they may not have appropriate ID. And even if they are able find shelter they are highly vulnerable for human and sex trafficking.”

Second Shift plans to launch its young women’s home in early 2021 and the young men’s home soon thereafter. The official announcement was made during the live stream of its virtual gala on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The announcement coincides with National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Alabama is the fourth highest ranking state for homeless youth, and 95 percent of them are without shelter.

“We believe that Alabama can do better,” Spence said. “One hundred percent of the youth we work with at Second Shift are homeless experiencing housing instability. The lack of housing impacts every area of a person’s life and identity.”

HomeFULLness started in November 2019 as a campaign called “30 Days of HomeFULLness” with the intention of raising funds and awareness, as well as defining what the fullness of having a home looks like. The next step will be the women’s home and men’s home planned for 2021.

“We currently have an investor and real estate partner working on purchasing a home to lease to Second Shift,” Spence said. “We have the funds to sustain the program for at least one year, we have trained experienced staff, a program outline and volunteers to bring this program to life.”

Second Shift will partner with Driving Hope Inc. for youth transportation, Backpack Buddies for supplemental food boxes, and Pathways Professional Counseling. They are also seeking individuals, couples and families to help with mentoring. Introductory training is offered virtually every third Saturday or first Friday of the month.

To register for a training session, email link@secondshiftalabama.org and use the subject line “mentor.” To provide financial sponsorship to a youth, email with the subject line “sponsor.” To give a one-time or monthly donation, visit Secure.givelively.org/donate/second-shift. For more information, call 205-201-0464.