AN EDGE FOR IDAHO’S KIDS

The Idaho Statesman - - Front Page - BY BOWEN WEST (Twin Falls) Times-News

An on­line pro­gram funded by a fed­eral grant is de­signed to help pre­pare Idaho chil­dren for kinder­garten.

Alex Frand­sen con­sid­ers her­self lucky.

She was in two fos­ter­care homes be­fore she lived with her grand­mother for two years. When she was 18 years old, she was home­less. She lived out of mo­tels for months.

Now, An­der­son is the first res­i­dent liv­ing in the Twin Falls Op­ti­mist Club’s Youth House.

“I’ve been liv­ing out of boxes for months,” Frand­sen told The Times-News. “I can see this place be­ing home for me.”

The Youth House has opened its doors to young adults who have tran­si­tioned out of the foster care pro­gram.

The Youth House will serve as a tran­si­tional home and will house young adults. Res­i­dents will have a two-year lease and pay $100 per month plus 10 per­cent of the util­i­ties. Life-skills classes – from how to cook to how to pay bills – will be taught by com­mu­nity mem­bers. The ul­ti­mate goal is to pre­pare them for the next step in their lives, said Barry Knoblich, pres­i­dent of the Op­ti­mist Club Foun­da­tion and Youth House pro­ject man­ager.

“There was noth­ing here for them,” Knoblich said. “Now they have a place.”

To live in the house, po­ten­tial res­i­dents must fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore be­ing screened. The res­i­dents make a com­mit­ment to be sober and em­ployed or in school when sign­ing the lease.

Club Pres­i­dent Anna Sc­holes said the pro­ject was a “no-brainer” for the Op­ti­mist Club.

“These kids don’t have any­where to go,” Sc­holes said. “I have an 18-yearold. The idea of him try­ing to fig­ure out cook­ing, bud­get­ing and ev­ery­thing out on his own is aw­ful.

“We pro­vide these kids with an op­por­tu­nity to learn these things. This place gives them a chance to learn.”

Liz Haugee, sec­re­tary for the club and de­signer of the house, said that the re­mod­el­ing on the 1900s house on Third Av­enue North was ex­ten­sive. The house needed a new roof, a new heat­ing sys­tem and more. Fundrais­ers and com­mu­nity sup­port made the $115,000 re­model pos­si­ble.

The build­ing is owned by Twin Falls County and is leased to the Twin Falls Op­ti­mist Club for $1 a year.

The re­mod­el­ing was as much work as build­ing three houses, Knoblich said. The house has three floors with mul­ti­ple bath­rooms and a kitchen and it is ADA ac­ces­si­ble. It will be able to ac­com­mo­date 18 young adult res­i­dents and two res­i­dent ad­vis­ers.

“These kids have had enough in­sta­bil­ity in their lives,” Knoblich said. “We made this place be­cause we care.”

‘‘ THESE KIDS HAVE HAD ENOUGH IN­STA­BIL­ITY IN THEIR LIVES. WE MADE THIS PLACE BE­CAUSE WE CARE.

Barry Knoblich, pres­i­dent of the Op­ti­mist Club Foun­da­tion and Youth House pro­ject man­ager

PAT SUTPHIN Times-News

Alex Frand­sen, left, talks with Julie Bas­tian about where her stuff should go in her room at the new Twin Falls Op­ti­mist Club Youth House.

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