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Taylor House eases transition to adulthood

Emancipated female foster youth learn real-world skills, knowledge
By: Sena Christain
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Harvest Festival

What: Benefits The Taylor House

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3

Where: Timber Creek Ballroom, 7050 Del Webb Blvd. in Roseville

Cost: $60 for single entry, $110 for a couple and $550 for a private table. Tickets close to sold out. Donations and sponsorships accepted.

Info: www.thetaylorhouse.org.

 

By the time the young women leave The Taylor House, they will have held down a job or taken college classes, learned how to save money and gone through the process of living in a rental unit.

Women ages 18 to 21 who earn a room in this house in downtown Roseville pay $300 a month in rent, a $300 security deposit and share in the cost of utilities. They sign a month-to-month lease, and understand how to get their deposit back once they move out.

When it’s all said and done and time to leave, these women will know what life is like in the real world of adulthood. That’s the point.

“These (rooms) are for girls who are really serious about getting their lives on track. It’s not a crash pad,” said Founder Lisa Peat.

She created this safe place in January 2012 for young women emancipated from foster care and transitioning out of the system.

There are more than 500,000 children in foster care in the United States, and about 20,000 age out each year. The majority of these young adults leave the system without a place to live, and many become homeless.

Peat runs The Taylor House with only one paid employee and relies heavily on financial donations. Her nonprofit organization is hosting its second annual Harvest Festival fundraiser Oct. 3. Most of the tickets have been sold, but donations are still welcome. Last year’s event raised $8,000.

Initially, Peat covered most of The Taylor House’s expenses out of her own savings. In 2011, she purchased the foreclosed 2,200-square-foot, six-bedroom house built in the 1920s. The house was blight on the neighborhood, and by the time the 90-day remodel was complete, volunteers had removed three tons of garbage — including hypodermic needles stuck in the carpet.

Volunteers Sharon and Matt Deane had known Peat before she founded The Taylor House, and saw firsthand the work she did helping foster and at-risk youth through the court system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with Child Advocates of Placer County; so they were in full support when she decided to open the house.

“Matt and I were very lucky to have had the opportunity to raise two children and offer them everything they needed in life,” Sharon Deane said. “We wanted to help so that others might have a chance to succeed. We knew The Taylor House would do just that. We are the lucky ones.”

Today, the space accommodates a live-in house manager and up to four tenants. A fifth room is available on a temporary basis, such as for a former tenant who now attends college and will stay in the room when her dormitory closes over the holidays. There is also an office with a computer and Internet access. The young women must follow the house rules; Peat has had to ask a few girls to move out.

Peat intentionally bought a house in downtown Roseville that’s walking distance to the library, restaurants, shops and the bus stop.

The Taylor House also offers a car matching program, in which the young woman must have a job for at least 90 days, and have $1,000 and three months of insurance saved up, and the organization will match her $1,000.

Peat, of Auburn, is at the house most days, meeting with the young women to revamp their resumes, help them create budgets or organize goal-setting sessions. Most of the girls come straight from a group home or foster care, and have never set up their own bank account or handled adult responsibilities.

“It’s really a stepping stone to their actual independence,” Peat said.

The women decide when it’s time for them to transition out of the house; the average stay is eight months.

In addition to her work with The Taylor House, Peat continues to serve as a CASA. She became a CASA after retiring from a career in corporate finance in 2004 — but her involvement in volunteerism harkens back to her childhood.

“I’m just one of those people: I just stand up for animals and people that need it,” she said. “I’m the person who doesn’t look away. I’m the one to say something.”

Her experience as a CASA prompted her concern for emancipated foster youth and doing what she could to provide them with some of the tools needed for a successful transition into adulthood. Peat said she couldn’t run The Taylor House without the support of volunteers and the greater community.

“I’m just very grateful for the random strangers that contact me and say you’re doing such an amazing thing,” she said. “It validates — because it’s not easy managing four teenage girls. I appreciate that support.”