September 2023 News

Fall 2023 Statewide Youth Conference

Dates: November 10 – 12, 2023 | Location: Fredericksburg, VA for Youth and Professionals, Hybrid
We’re pleased to announce the details of the 2023 Fall Hybrid Conference. Learn ways to navigate the read world and get beyond this moment! We have returned to our pre-pandemic sized conferences, also involving our hybrid approach, where youth can attend in-person or online. In-person attendees will attend Friday-Sunday, will take part in our traditional Project LIFE party, and of course will make new friends. Everyone will improve independent living skills, no matter their attendance style.

Please visit https://www.vaprojectlife.org/conferences/ for more details on the conference, the application process, or volunteer opportunities. 

Program Updates

A Bittersweet Farewell to Sophia Booker

Sophia has been a part of the Project LIFE family for over 12+ years. Her journey from Project LIFE youth participant, to volunteer, to Project LIFE staff has displayed this program’s core value of a “Youth-Driven Approach” with Sophia in the driver’s seat. She has been a champion for advocating for herself and others, developing young leaders with the SPEAKOUT advocacy group and Youth MOVE, and providing that lived experience to the team as Project LIFE’s Youth Development Coordinator for the past 9 years. She will be transitioning to Voices for Virginia’s Children as the Advocacy and Engagement Manager.

Best wishes on your future endeavors from your Project LIFE family!

Youth Welfare Approach Webpage

Project LIFE is proud to unveil a new page on our website dedicated to the Youth Welfare Approach. Because of the unique needs of youth, the Virginia Department of Social Services is embarking on a different framework to engage youth, entitled the Youth Welfare Approach (YWA). This approach more adequately addresses the strengths and needs of youth and young adults. Along with resources posed on our page, we also have a calendar hub for YWA trainings. Project LIFE will be hosting trainings for all professionals from LDSSs and private providers on the YWA. Visit this page to sign up and learn more.

Upcoming Statewide Events

Talk it Out Tuesdays Remixed (LAST ONE!)

Date: September 19, 2023 | Time: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. for Youth virtually via Ring Central and continuing the third Tuesday of every month
(RETURNING TO EVENINGS.) Talk it out Tuesdays is back and is “remixed.” On the third Tuesday of the month, youth can take advantage of a safe space to connect with their peers. Youth can bring their own topics to chat about, or the group can talk about the topic of the month. Register once and attend as many as you want! (Note: there is a new meeting link as of August 25, 2022.) Reach out to Melissa with questions.

Statewide VDSS Check Ins

Dates: October 10, 2023 | Time: 3:30 p.m. – 4:00p.m. for  Professionals virtually via Ring Central
These check-in calls are open to all DSS agencies to discuss independent living needs and updates with the VDSS IL team’s Letha Moore-Jones and Monica Cabell. They will start October 10, 2023, and will run through December 12, 2023. You do not need to register for these check-ins. You can click here at the scheduled time to attend virtually, or contact George at gmack@umfs.org or at 804.239.1044 to receive the dial in information to join by phone, or if you have any questions. . 

Upcoming Regional and Hybrid Events

Central Region’s SoulFULL Sundays

Date: September 3, 2023 | Time: 11:30 a.m. for Everyone! Youth and Professionals at UMFS, RVA
Let’s face it, we know many life transitions and transformations occur during the teen years. Bodies mature, thinking ability improves, and teens learn to manage many new emotions. Teens are striving to “find themselves” and to answer the question, “Who am I?” The answers to such questions often include a spiritual search for meaning and purpose in life. Join Project LIFE in gaining a 

  • greater sense that life is meaningful and purposeful. 
  • lower anxiety and stress 
  • more positive social interactions with friends 
  • more friends who are positive influences 
  • greater success in future stages of life.  

Project LIFE will host a watch party/church, spiritual/holistic event for youth interested in fellowship. RSVP with T. Murphy @ tmurphy@umfs.org. 

Central’s Region’s Dare To Dream Workshop

Date: September 6 and September 13, 2023 | Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for Youth in-person  at UMFS, Richmond VA
Dare to Dream workshop will focus on goal characteristics, time management, and what to do when setbacks occur. This workshop will provide the knowledge and skills young participants need to complete more tasks, and get things done. These skills will translate into increased satisfaction in their professional and personal lives. The second portion of the workshop will support youth learning the sport of Golf and some soft techniques.  This portion of the workshop will promote self-care and reinforce goal setting; teaching youth to look forward, get a grip, be patient, focus on creating a perfect balance through consistency, always remaining poised and as Ben Hogan put it, learn that “The secret is in the dirt.” For more information and registration, contact T Murphy: tmurphy@umfs.org. 

Piedmont Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting

Date: September 7, 2023 | Time: 12:30 p.m. for Professionals virtually via Zoom

All Piedmont region DSS agencies and private providers are invited to attend this ILCC to discuss independent living needs for youth transitioning out of foster care. This meeting will include resource sharing and opportunities for youth in this region. Contact Cierra Emory-Clegg through email cemory-clegg@umfs.org or by phone at 804-239-1073 if you plan on attending or if you need more information. She will provide the meeting link to you upon RSVP.

Northern Region’s Independent Living Coordinators Committee (ILCC) Meeting

Date: September 12, 2023 | Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for Professionals virtually via Ring Central

All Northern DSS agencies and private providers are invited to attend this ILCC to discuss independent living needs for youth transitioning out of foster care. This meeting will cover topics related to transitioning youth into adulthood and will be joined by Monica Cabell with VDSS to share statewide updates. Contact George through email at gmack@umfs.org or at 804.239.1044 if you plan on attending to get the link for this meeting, or if you need more information.  

Northern Region’s Creative Writing Workshop

Date: September 16, 2023 | Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for Youth in-person at UMFS, NOVA
Project LIFE invites you to a creative writing workshop that will share ways to cope with life’s stressors through writing. Author Mary Carpenter will facilitate this workshop. Lunch will be provided to youth participants. RSVP by registering through the button below. Reach out to George at gmack@umfs.org for more info or with any questions. 

Central Region’s Happy Body Wellness Sessions

Dates: September 19, 2023 | Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for Youth in-person at UMFS, RVA
Project LIFE is teaming up with Bethany Watkins from Happy Body Wellness! Happy Body Wellness is a nutrition, health and wellness company that was started by the anti-diet Registered Dietitian, Bethany Watkins. Bethany believes wholeheartedly in the importance of a balanced lifestyle consisting of nutritious meals, fitness and movement, quality rest, and stress management. PL youth in the region are invited to join us for one or both of these sessions about wellness. To attend, register with T. Murphy at  tmurphy@umfs.org. 

Central Region’s Parenting Together Group

Date: September 20, 2023 and continuing monthly | Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for Youth in-person at UMFS, RVA
Any Virginia youth, aged 14-23, who has experienced foster care and is a parent, or soon to be parent, to a young child is invited to attend this peer support group. This group will learn together in a safe space while relating with other peers in the same stage of parenthood. Attendees can bring their child(ren) with them to this group, and will be connected to resources, local experts, and prizes/gifts. If you would like to attend or have questions, please contact T at tmurphy@umfs.org.

Eastern Region’s Guy Code 

Date: September 21, 2023 | Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. For youth in-person in Hampton
IL aged males in the Eastern Region are invited to attend to connect with their peers, receive support and learn new IL skills. For more information and registration, contact Melissa Lee: mlee@umfs.org. 

Central Region’s “The Good Life Academy” (TGLA) Series

Dates: September 26, 2023 | Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for Youth in-person at UMFS, RVA
Youth transitioning into adulthood need to learn the money skills they will need for the real world. Project LIFE is partnering with Tyler Watkins from The Good Life Academy (TGLA) to teach students about the basics of finances in the adult world, to include: earning pay, bank accounts, credit vs. debit, saving, good and bad interest, and more. Invest in yourself and discover the world that awaits you, as you move on up into adulthood! RSVP with T. Murphy @ tmurphy@umfs.org. 

Central Region’s CAR CARES

Date: September 29th, 2023 | Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p,m. for Youth at in-person at UMFS, RVA
Join Project LIFE’s special guest, Tony Fowler, whose accomplishments include being a UMFS resource parent, a NASCAR Mechanic and a TonMAR Eng. & MFG. Corp business owner! All PL youth, ages 14-23, in the Central region, whether you have a car now or plan to one day, are invited to attend. Project LIFE is partnering with a local expert to share car info around How often to get service, how to recognize car needs, and how to perform some basic car care tasks. If you would like to attend or have questions, please contact T. Murphy at tmurphy@umfs.org.

Northern Region’s Creative Art Workshop

Date: October 14, 2023 | Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for Youth in-person at UMFS, NOVA
Project LIFE invites you to a creative art workshop. Facilitated by Susan Graham, youth will develop individual sketches. Supplies will be available for attendees to use during the workshop, including a sketchbook for each participant to use and take home with them. Lunch will be provided to registered youth participants. RSVP through the button below, and contact George Mack through email at gmack@umfs.org with questions.

Additional Events and Resources

VDSS Youth Services (IL) Updates Corner

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