The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) High School Program kicked off the New Year with a new class of young leaders. The 2016 HYLA High School Class is comprised of 30 eleventh graders from Hancock County who represent all four area high schools (Bay High School, Hancock High School, Our Lady Academy, and St. Stanislaus). They will participate in a rigorous year long program which will develop and sharpen their leadership skills based on the six traditional building blocks of community development: business development, workforce development, physical infrastructure, cultural and environmental stewardship, and civic infrastructure.
Our first session, sponsored by South Group Insurance, was held on January 13th at the Leo Seal Community Center. Students participated in “ice-breaker” activities and explored the different characteristics of being a good leader. “It's truly an experience unlike any other, and it gives us a fantastic opportunity to interact with all that Hancock County and Mississippi have to offer. The program also provides a kind of coalition comprised of bright students from around the county, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it!“ said Marie Konopacki of Hancock High School.
Joy Saucier from Mississippi Power met with the students and conducted a personal profile (DISC) on each student’s individual leadership style. Cooper Compretta of Bay High School stated, “Based upon my experience with this activity, I found that the DISC profile not only leads to a greater understanding of one's self, but also of one's friends and co-workers. The DISC profile is a valuable tool when conducting any team-building activity.”
Students from Bay High School that were selected for the program include: Minerva Alonso, Cooper Compretta, Talia Jackson, Demetri Lyons, Tarah Necaise, Elora Pierce, Jill Seymour, and Aidia Suter. Students from Hancock High School include: Haley Akers, Amy Keith, Marie Konopacki, Morgan Lacoste, Brooke Ladner, Jordan Ladner, Katie Ladner, Bradley Lewis, Jasmine Martin, Tim Papania, Brooke Rasco, Ariana Rusher, and Adara Rutherford. Students from Our Lady Academy are Abby Ladner, Kloe Lloyd and Claire Lundgren. Students from St. Stanislaus College include Corbin Blanchard, Drew Burnett, Andrew Elkins, Jason Park, Cody Peranich and Seth Taylor.
The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy is the only county-wide youth leadership program in Hancock County and is a program of the Hancock Resource Center. At this time, local community sponsorships are needed. Please consider sponsoring a session or making a general donation to support the ongoing operation of the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy. Invest in Hancock County’s future by cultivating its next generation of leaders: visit www.hancockhrc.org or call 228-463-8887 to learn how.
Picture: “Sly as a Fox” – Joy Saucier from Mississippi Power asked HYLA students to choose an animal they most identified with. Pictured from left to right are: Adara Rutherford (Hancock High), Ariana Rusher (Hancock High), Dimetri Lyons (Bay High), Jasmine Martin (Hancock High), Minerva Alonso (Bay High), Marie Konopacki (Hancock High), Kloe Lloyd (Our Lady Academy), and Andrew Elkins (St. Stanislaus College).
Hancock Resource Center has been instrumental in their role as part of a collaborative team that was recently commended by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) for their work in ending Veteran homelessness in the Gulfport/Gulf Coast Region. According to Mathew Doherty, USICH executive director, reaching “functional zero” means that “the infrastructure and systems built will ensure that any Veteran experiencing a housing crisis will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home.” HRC housed 35 Veterans and prevented homelessness for an additional 18 Veteran families since January 2015 through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program which provides outreach, case management, and other flexible assistance to prevent Veteran homelessness or rapidly re-house Veterans who become homeless. HRC has operated the SSVF program for the past two and a half years and serves Veterans in both Hancock and Harrison Counties.
The collaborative team of providers, including the VA, housing authorities, and nonprofits who operate across the lower six counties of Mississippi, have been successful in housing and stabilizing 244 Veterans across the area since January 2015. The cities of Gulfport and Biloxi both participated in the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and were recognized for solidifying partnerships and securing commitments to end Veteran homelessness by December 2015 (visit http://www.biloxi.ms.us/mayors-recognized-for-work-with-homeless-veterans/ to visit the City of Biloxi’s press release). Moving forward, as the collaborative works toward sustaining their progress, it is important to note that while every housing crisis cannot necessarily be prevented, there are now systems and ample financial resources in place to make sure the episode is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
In addition to providing key housing services, HRC has added another significant element to the wraparound services available to Veterans experiencing homelessness on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) has proven highly effective in helping Veterans overcome obstacles to employment and sustainable housing. Hancock Resource Center connects Veterans in Hancock, Harrison, and Pearl River Counties with employers based upon key skills inventories and employer-specific needs. Homeless Veterans receive occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. These key employment services are critical in the Veteran’s ability to sustain the housing after temporary housing support programs, like SSVF, are exhausted, and thereby increase Veterans’ life chances over the long term.
For more information about these or any HRC programs, please visit www.hancockhrc.org.