A Home Away From Home For Our Most Vulnerable Children

Stroudsburg Herald

Photo provided by Violette Francois

by Jared Acosta

The Violette "Stand For The Children" Home is fundraising to build a proposed group home in Pike County. Once completed, the new structure will provide temporary housing for up to 24 young men ages 10-17 while Children and Youth investigates abuse allegations. Residency might become permanent until they turn 18 if abuse was determined to have happened. It will serve Pike, Monroe, and surrounding counties depending on needs.

The home away from home will be a family-type environment that promotes normalcy and provides stability while the young men are apart from their families. The idea is to provide the boys with a structured environment that supports them mentally, physically, and educationally throughout the community. In this haven, they can develop life skills and a care plan.

While residing at the Violette "Stands With the Children" Home, young men will focus on education, preparing for college, sports, and extra-curricular activities. They will learn how to dress, personal finance, valuable work and interview techniques, and other practical skills. Most importantly, they will learn about family life and community integration. They will learn about consequences and long-term planning that looks beyond college and into their own future family life. Introducing girls to the home could complicate already tricky situations, so the organization decided to house only young men.

"We want to integrate these young men into society so they may develop into productive citizens," says Chairman and CEO Max Francois.

Having grown up in the foster care system herself, Founder and name-sake Violette Francois understands many of the challenges abused children face. She remembers blaming herself as a child, and at one point, nearly taking her own life as a result of the guilt she carried. She is thankful for the people who stepped up and helped her when she most desperately needed them and intends to return the favor. "It's a way to say thank you, how grateful I am," she said, "Imagine where I'd be if the community didn't give me this opportunity."

Her plan expands on a structure that she learned while living at a Morristown, NJ group home until she aged out of the system when she turned 18. There she learned about balancing work and paying bills while attending school and how to survive on her own. More importantly, she realized that she wasn't alone. There are a lot of children facing the same struggles, but there are also a lot of people willing to help out. Violette is grateful to be in a position where she can offer children similar opportunities to those the New Jersey home did for her. She hopes to instill this mentality into every young man who leaves her care. That is why there will also be a strong focus on volunteering and learning the concept of "paying it forward."

In addition to operating the residence, Violette plans to continue volunteering with the Bushkill Emergency Corps, Adopt a Highway Program, and the Salvation Army. She will also continue coordinating local blood drives for Red Cross, which she has done every February and August for the past 5-6 years.

Rosemary Brown, Matthew Binbaum, Gail Kulick, Jeff Reichl, Dr. Musa Tangorenv are among the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization.

The organization is currently seeking grants and funding. Their next fundraiser is scheduled for April 24th at Stroudmoor. For more information or to get involved, check out: https://www.violettestandforthechildrenhome.com/

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