'Hand up, not a handout': Pivotal Point youth facility set for construction

·3 min read

Sep. 22—Community members and city officials gathered Thursday to break ground on Pivotal Point Transitional Housing's new youth facility.

The building at 4820 Gene Field Road will house homeless young people in the community.

"The really cool part about this is it represents how we're going to help youth," said Melissa Frakes, Pivotal Point executive director. "So this will just be an environment that will have 12 to 14 young adults ages 17 to 20 and really set them up for a longer-term program, which would be 12 months to 24 months."

Pivotal Point has been in St. Joseph for 11 years and the organization has another facility for adults and their families at 3000 Parkway A. The Christian organization works to help people overcome homelessness and pursue self-sufficiency.

Frakes said the focus at the new space will be on education and mastering life skills like learning how to drive.

"It really provides power and is just the freedom that they need to be able to work and do those things," Frakes said. "We're a working program and so they will work part-time but they will concentrate on their education. Then, we'll also decide if they are college-bound or are skills-bound. It's different than our adult plan."

Construction for the new facility is officially set to start on Monday, Sept. 26.

"It's happening and we really have an opportunity here to change the community one youth at a time so that we don't continue that homeless, that generational homelessness and poverty and drug addiction," Frakes said.

Clark Hampton, president of Pivotal Point, said the organization's leaders are confident the new facility will be a success.

"We've had some success with some teenagers and I think we're now ready because we learned how to work with them," Hampton said. "We give them a hand up, not a handout, and that is the success of our program."

One of the goals of the youth facility is to help with young people's futures, Hampton said.

"Our goal when they get out of high school with either a G.E.D. or they graduate is to have them get a good job, join the military or go to college," Hampton said. "I do know that out of the ones we've worked with, we've got about eight in college right now who've been through our program."

Hampton said many young people need help in the community.

"In the last year, we have had over 100 applications from 17- and 18-year-olds in our city," Hampton said. "We don't advertise, this is all word of mouth so that blew my mind."

St. Joseph Mayor John Josendale said it's an inspiration to listen and see the success of Pivotal Point.

"As we went through the campaign and met different people, we really got to learn the importance of helping people in the homeless range," Josendale said. "When you really get deep into it and understand it, there's a whole different side of it that most people don't even realize."

Josendale said this new facility will help make the community a better place.

"Everybody wants to help but nobody wants it to be in their neighborhood, but this is one that I think is a perfect place for it," Josendale said. "The facility is going to be unbelievable in the number of people that it helps. I think you can only speak highly of what they've done, what the group does, and it's very easy to help them and work for them, so congratulations."

The hope is to finish construction on the new youth facility in June of 2023.