Life Skills for Teens

Shiro, AprilrevWritten by Program Vice Chair, April Shiro

If you want to be truly loved and appreciated for all your time and efforts helping troubled teen students find their way back, then Competencies for Independent Living is the program for you to try!

From the Director, Bill Ryland, the staff, the teachers, the counselors and the students at Koinonia Homes for Teens, there is an amazing amount of love and appreciation for the Assistance League of Greater Placer ladies who volunteer for this program.   We have become an important part of their therapeutic program and they constantly rave about our organization on social media and to other businesses and organizations.

April and Director rev1

Pictured:   April-Vice Chair,  Bill Ryland-Director,  Joanne-Program Chair

You might hear the words “troubled teens” and “drug addiction” and want to run the other way like I did – but once I sat in on a class led by the Assistance League ladies, I could see what a beautiful job the school has done and how truly wonderful these kids are. The goal of this mentoring program is to provide some of the tools for these teens to be able to live successfully on their own.

As Bill Ryland stated, “We all do what we do to feel good, and to get what we want. These kids are relearning to act a certain way to get what they want.  The students here are taught new skills and tools.  They find out that nice works wonders and that communicating in a caring, honest way works to get what you desire to have.  They relearn right away what it takes to have peace, joy, and love in their life and they get 24-hour support to do this while they are here at Koinonia.”

Here is something that I read from their Facebook Page:

“Here at Koinonia, healing is happening.  Healing does not mean the damage never existed.  It just means the damage no longer controls our lives.”

Wow!  That says it all.  Bill told me some wonderful success stories too.

One student named Kenny graduated from Koinonia, received a scholarship to William Jessup University, got his degree and went to work for Pride Industries working with foster youth.  He got married and Bill and his wife attended his wedding.  Kenny was a big, burly tough guy who was in a gang, witnessed a murder and took drugs in his teens.  He’s now in his mid-20’s.

Another graduate of Koinonia, a young lady named Crystal, went to the University of California, graduated and is working at Kaiser Permanente now in a very high paying position, loves her job and is so grateful to Koinonia for helping her find her way. Crystal also sits on the Advisory Board of Koinonia now.

These are students that had a serious drug addiction and emotional problems that they had to work through.  According to Bill, there are a lot of other wonderful heartwarming stories that make running Koinonia so well worth the effort.

20 Assistance League member volunteers discuss and teach the following units, every Wednesday for 13 weeks, in classrooms at Koinonia Homes for Teens in Loomis.

Competencies Team Photo rev1 Some of our many caring Competencies mentors–Seated: June & Kathleen.  Back row: April, Lauren, Charley, Carol, Joanne, Kathy.

  • Personal Appearance & Hygiene– Students learn how to be well groomed. They also acquire basic laundering, ironing skills, and sewing skills.
  • Values & Effective Communication– This class helps students understand their values and the fact that their values are the basis of their behavior. The class stresses
    female 2
    Housing Class Leader, Julie

    taking responsibility for one’s own actions. They also learn good communication and job skills. Mock interviews are held to prepare the students for job seeking.

  • Budget & Finance– Students learn how to manage a budget and checking account, maintain a good credit rating, save for the future, maintain accurate records, prioritize expenses, and how to avoid unreasonable loan fees and/or scams.
  • Housing – Students learn how to find their first apartment/housing, what is fordable, what deposits and furnishings are needed, and how to deal with shared housing.
  • Food Management– Students learn basic cooking, nutrition and food budgeting, etiquette and table settings, recipe terms and how to create a menu.

Table from Website rev

Their comments from the weekly evaluations they do after each class with us show how much they love and appreciate the Assistance League ladies.  Here are just a few of their comments:

  • “I’m blown away that you care enough about us to come spend time with us every week.”
  • “I love how you come to teach us mommy skills. I don’t feel like I deserve all this attention.” (Ah, but you do and we welcome the opportunity to tell you just how deserving you are!)
  • “I feel like I accomplished so much and I’m so proud that I sewed a hacky sack (that’s a little bean bag to toss around) all by myself and made a nice warm blanket for myself.”
  • “You ladies are fantastic. Please come back next week!”

Karen Littlerev

Assistance League volunteer, Karen “Cookie Girl” bakes cookies for the students every week

If you want to work with boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 18, who adore having you around, treat you with love and respect, and give you the feeling that you give them hope for a better life than what they now have or deserve… join the Assistance League of Greater Placer, and become a volunteer for our Competencies for Independent Living Program!


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