West End Neighborhood House

Press Releases

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2009
Contact: Molly Keresztury
Day Phone: (302) 658-4171
Night Phone: (304) 282-7932
Email: mkeresztury@westendnh.org

West End Debuts Home Built by Youth to Shelter Youth

Independent Living Home for former foster care youth unveiled in memory of board member’s daughter

WILMINGTON – Three formerly homeless teens struggling to adapt to the challenges of life after foster care now have a place to call home, thanks to the Life Lines Program at West End Neighborhood House. Emma’s House, a home built by at-risk youth for former foster care youth, was unveiled today with a ceremony at St. Francis Hospital and a dedication in front of the nearby home. The charming row home, at 1625 West Eighth Street, was named in remembrance of Emma Beck, the daughter of former West End Board Member William Beck.

In an effort to create safe, affordable housing for former foster care youth, the concept of Emma’s House drew together a trio of organizations with a shared goal. The three-unit home was renovated by participants of The Challenge Program, a non-profit that teaches adjudicated youth viable construction skills as they work toward obtaining their General Education Diplomas, and was furnished and decorated by the Wilmington Junior League.

“Emma’s House is unique because it spurred a partnership between two non-profits working aggressively toward helping at-risk youth,” said Hayley Schmittinger, Director of Life Lines, a West End program currently helping 150 former foster care youth transition into adulthood. “I hope the success of Emma’s House will encourage more creative collaboration and private-public partnerships to address the needs of former foster care and at-risk youth.”

Gov. Jack Markell, who spoke at the dedication, also said he looks forward to expanding on the success of Emma’s House and partnerships, like the one between Life Lines and The Challenge Program, by encouraging community organizations, non-profits and state programs to work together pro-actively.

“West End has always been an innovative leader when it comes to serving the diverse needs of Delawareans, and that’s especially true when it comes to former foster care youth,” Gov. Markell said. “The partnership that led to Emma’s House is an example of Delawareans at their best, coming together to address a significant need in society.”

New Castle County Executive Christopher Coons, Challenge Program Board President Charlie Copeland, Executive Director of West End Neighborhood House Paul Calistro, Executive Director of the Challenge Program Andrew McKnight and William Beck also spoke at the event.

Created in 2001, the Life Lines Program at West End Neighborhood House has served hundreds of former foster care youth. Including Emma’s House, West End currently has the capacity to provide 45 former foster care youth with housing. West End plans to build on their internationally recognized leadership with the establishment of Delaware’s first economic development employment program for former foster care youth. The program, created in partnership with Barclays Bank of Delaware, aims to produce three sustainable small businesses to be run by Life Lines participants, helping them hone critical job and entrepreneurial skills.