Building a better future

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Mondovi, WI (WEAU) -- An area program is helping troubled youth literally build a better future, all by constructing a house from the ground up.

Western Dairlyland's Fresh Start Program began last September with the goal of helping young adults rebuild their lives. Adults from ages 16 to 24 have been participating in the program To change their lives for the better.

Today, after a year of work, they were able to finally show off the finished product during an open house in Mondovi.

Fresh Start member, Jordan Moore, says the program has changed his life. Moore says, “I was on probation for getting in trouble and doing dumb things, and my probation manager actually recommended it to me. I'm glad she did because it saved my life, honestly if it wasn't for them, I'd probably be in either jail or prison by now."

Program manager Katie Hulbert says is aimed at helping rehabilitate troubled youth. Hulbert says, "The goals of the program; we're working with them on their employability skills, their education, helping them make better choices, building leadership qualities with them, and helping them with independent living skills. For that process we use building the house as a tool, to do that."

Hulbert says members spend 900 hours constructing a house as well as working on their career development to assist them in obtaining a job, or applying for school, when the program ends.
Moore says the program has given him the tools he needed to get a job.

Moore says, "They’ve helped me out with the skills I have, and how to talk to people and how to apply for other jobs, and they help motivate me to do more than I used to do, so it's a big part of it."

Hulbert says this year has been particularly successful for the program. Hulbert says, “The success rate is really great. Right now we're averaging about 85% of our youth have been finishing the program, that's fairly high for us. About 70% are completing their high school education, of those that need a high school education coming into the program, and around 60% receive full time employment."

Hulbert says the house will be sold to a low income family, with $75,000 going towards paying back RCU for the building materials, the rest will go towards next year’s program.

Hulbert also says young adults who have completed the program and are planning on heading to post-secondary school will receive a little over $2,700 from an AmeriCorps grant to go towards their educational expenses as well.