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South Memphis Alliance works to support foster youth

“We have been helping young people who are in the foster care system or who have transitioned out foster care into independent living,” said Tiffany Turnage.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When there is a need, Memphis residents tend to show up. That is all so true for one organization that switched its mission when they noticed a greater need in the community.

“Initially, South Memphis Alliance started in 2000. It was to help neighborhood associations,” said Tiffany Turnage, South Memphis Alliance Program Director.

South Memphis Alliance (SMA) served as a meeting ground for community members.

That need grew too loud to ignore especially when Tennessee Department of Children Services became involved.

“A lot of young people who have been transitioning through the foster care system, some bounce form home to home. Some are taken from their parents. Some are in a kinship program where they stay with their families, but they’re just in the system,” said Turnage.

That is when listening turned into action.

“We have been helping young people who are in the foster care system or who have transitioned out foster care into independent living for about 12 years now,” said Turnage.

They are providing financial literacy, sex education, life skills and school enrollment or GED assistance.

Their newest program, Will Works, helps with job training skills.

“We’re just trying to help with workforce development. We have a lot of young people on the streets engaged in a lot of violent activities because they don’t have much to do. We’re just trying to give them the opportunity to find something they like to do and just be occupied,” said Turnage.

SMA says research has shown when foster youth have support between the ages of 15 and 25, there is an 84% chance of them living a successful life.

“You’re transitioning from adolescence into adulthood. You don’t know it all. We didn’t know it all,” said Turnage. “A lot of people, young people, they feel that sense of abandonment, feeling like no one cares or no one understands. We’re here to let them know that any assistance you need or support that you’re wanting or needing, we’re here to help you with that.”

They’re goal is to simply show we care.

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