Category Archives: Get to know our programs

Give Crystal a Boost!

Crystal, pictured at her graduation with her son and foster mother

We are asking for your help to support one of our young mothers in foster care who has recently graduated!

Crystal has been with her foster parent through Hearts & Homes for Youth for just over a year. During that time, she gave birth to her son, graduated from high school, and developed a great relationship with her foster parent. She applied and has been accepted to a 10-month leadership development program that will begin in Fall! Crystal is a wonderful, caring, attentive, dependable, and responsible mother. Let’s show her our support!

Our goal is to raise $2000 for Crystal. She has day care set up for her son in Fall, but needs help paying for day care this Summer. She also needs help paying driving school fees and to buy some needed baby supplies.

To donate, click here & put “Crystal” in the comment box, thank you!

Crystal, pictured with her son and her Social Workers

Get to know Katie & her daughter

Q5FJUK9OFHOver the past 20 years, Hearts & Homes for Youth has served a number of young mothers in our Damali Young Mother Program. We’d like to tell you about one of the young mothers in our care.

Katie came into our care a year ago when she was 17 years old and was about to graduate from high school. She came to Hearts & Homes for Youth from another foster care agency, specifically to join Damamli.

She entered in Phase 2 of the program and was provided with an apartment to share with her daughter. There she received individualized case management and we helped her develop her independent living skills, parenting skills, and money management skills. Our main role was to provide her and her daughter with a safe and supportive home while she studied for her Associate’s Degree at Community College of Baltimore County and worked part -time at an assisted living center.

In less than a year, Katie moved into Phase 3 of our program, which gives her more responsibility and independence as she builds solid footing for her family’s future.

Katie is one of a number of heart warming success stories about youth who excel with a strong support system and a safe home.


A fresh start on solid footing

DM8MFOGVFGRecently, a 19-year old young man at our Jumpstart Semi-Independent Living Group Home successfully completed our treatment program. During the time in our care, Andrew made significant improvement in his mental health, ability to manage his emotions, family relationships, and overall maturity.

Andrew came into our care at our John C Tracey Group Home and made a positive transition to Jumpstart where he had a lower level of care with more autonomy. At Jumpstart, Andrew maintained two jobs in the community, completed his GED, saved over $4,000, and secured his first apartment in the community! Going forward, Andrew has plans to pursue a career in plumbing.

We are so proud of Andrew for his amazing growth and success while in our care!

National Social Work Month

To all of the Social Workers at Hearts & Homes for Youth (including our CEO and Program Directors), and Social Workers at other organizations, we want to wish you a wonderful National Social Work Month!

Celebrated each March, National Professional Social Work Month is an opportunity to recognize the wonderful work of our tenacious, talented, and all-around awesome social workers! Our Social Workers tirelessly confront challenges facing the youth in our care and their caregivers, helping them overcome adversity, realize their dreams, and make the community a better place.

Our Social Workers spend nights in the hospital with youth, coordinate outdoor activities, take them to appointments, help them process their feelings, make themselves available for the youth whenever they’re needed, support them with determination, and act as their biggest cheerleaders celebrating every accomplishment!

From your team at Hearts & Homes, THANK YOU for all of your contributions. Thank you for advocating for each and every youth and for the incredible difference you make in their lives!

Good News at Jumpstart!

RE54D4GOX0Today we are happy to announce that one of our young men at Jumpstart Semi-Independent Living Program successfully completed our program and has returned home to his family! The young man, Trevor, was struggling behaviorally but recently made a major turn around. Trevor has maintained employment since entering the program, completed all of his court-required community service hours, invested in himself and made major breakthroughs in therapy, completed portions of the GED, and his behaviors and interactions with staff and peers have improved dramatically. We are so proud of this young man and the positive life choices he has made, especially his choice to invest in his future!

#MotivationMonday – Building on progress

IMG_2629To get your week off to a great start, we want to share with you an update about one of the young women in our care at Mary’s Mount Group Home in Harwood (which was recently repainted by volunteers from Fort Meade and UPS in Burtonsville)!

Kimmie is a 16-year-old who came to Hearts & Homes in mid-August with anger management, problems with authority, behavioral issues at school, and dealing with substance abuse. When she entered our program at Mary’s Mount, she quickly adapted to the rules of the house and immediately began receiving art therapy, individual therapy, and psychiatric counseling to help with medication management.

She was enrolled in school shortly after arriving and has been on the Honor Roll since then. She recently got a job at a local restaurant as a server and is eager to learn more, develop her skills and continue growing professionally. She has been rebuilding her relationship with her family and has a very supportive mother who has been engaged with her progress. She recently received her first home pass and spent a wonderful weekend with her family. She has great relationships with the other residents, does her chores, and has demonstrated an interest in completing the program successfully and returning home.

Kimmie is truly developing into a leader. The other residents recognize her as a role model, she has a positive influence on morale at Mary’s Mount and she is a great student. Residential Counselor Tamika Chambers describes her as a “typical teenager dealing with typical adolescent issues. She is independent, caring and helpful. Being in a homelike environment, close to her family while she is dealing with the consequences of her actions is one of the best ways for her to get back on the right track and reach her highest potential.”

A success story – the impact of a job

SquisitosWe have many amazing youth who pass through our doors but this young man’s story is a one that exemplifies what happens when we truly reach a youth. Joe came to us about this time last year. He had been involved in multiple programs for many years and had become reliant on the system. With no family involved and no plan to become self-sufficient, he floundered and could not grasp the limitless possibilities that we saw for him. He is a kind, intelligent young man whose smile and laughter is contagious but that was not what he saw when he looked in the mirror.

Joe was part of our semi-independent program for nearly a year and received all the services that we provide each youth – counseling, educational advocacy, independent living skills training, recreational opportunities and unconditional support and guidance. We helped him get a job and get enrolled in a GED program. But still he struggled; it was difficult for him to remain motivated and believe in himself. Staff continued to support him and encourage him but it often fell on deaf ears – or so we thought.

Eventually it was time for Joe to leave the program and enter the real world as a young adult. His state worker discharged him from the “system” and he was on his own. We supported him through this transition and then stopped hearing from him. We continued to think about him and hoped that all was well. A few months later, a staff member walked into a restaurant to order food and there was Joe with a huge smile! It turns out that Joe had maintained his full-time job where he is thriving! He also secured an apartment with a positive peer, is in a healthy relationship, and is starting to save money for his future. All those conversations, on-going support, and life lesson stories did not fall on deaf ears! While he could not put them into action in our program, he was able to take what he learned at Hearts & Homes and apply it to the real world and be successful! This illustrates the profound impact we have on our kids, whether they show it or not in the moment, which is why we never give up!

Every young person’s story is different and they all have different needs, healing processes, and ways of feeling empowered. This is why we make every effort to provide each of the youth in our care with a variety of experiences, opportunities, and treatment programs, hoping that at least one will make the difference and help them get back on their feet and back on the right track.

Hearts & Homes for Youth has relied on support from the community since our inception in April of 1964. It was a donation shepherded by Avis Birely from the Montgomery County Council for $25,000 that was matched by the president of Rockville Crushed Stone, that got Hearts & Homes for Youth running, enabling us to serve abused, neglected, and traumatized youth, to help the survivors feel empowered, learn to make positive life choices, and build a new life for themselves.

These children are our future. We need to get them off the street, back in school, into vocational training programs, into safe and supportive homes, and we need them to know that we all care.

We need art supplies!

219FB68281We are in need of the following art supplies for our Art Therapist to use in the sessions she holds with the youth in our care. If you are able to donate any of these following items, please contact Caitlin Ward at

  • Bristol all-purpose drawing paper
  • Crayola Model Magic, 2 lb Tub, White
  • Sharpies, all colors
  • Acrylic paints (preferably larger jugs)
  • Tempera paint
  • Spray paint, all colors 
  • Craft activity sets (tie dye, models, houses, etc.)
  • Beads
  • Embroidery

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues, manage their behaviors, understand their emotions, reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and increase awareness of self and others. This in turn can promote personal development, increase coping skills, and enhance cognitive function.

Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They work with the youth in our care to reflect on the underlying messages communicated through their art, thereby aiding in the healing process. Art therapists are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. 

JCT youth are raring to succeed!

4VTDQ367MUFor some time now, the young men at John C. Tracey Group Home have had continuous success, which we believe is a result of being employed. More residents at JCT are employed than ever for at least the past four years, and they are thriving with their responsibilities. The JCT residents are motivated, stepping outside their comfort zones, making things happen on their own, advocating for themselves, and doing well in school with little or no school associated issues. For the entire school year, JCT only had two school suspensions that were 3-5 days and both of those were due to fighting.

 One of our young men was successfully discharged from our program at the end of June and returned home to his family. During his time with us, he made exceptional improvements in his behavior. He is still employed here in Rockville at a local restaurant and is also attending a job readiness program in Glen Burnie, which he began while he was at JCT 

Another young man is our Richard Montgomery High School Featured Scholars graduate and recipient of the MARFY Youth Achievement Award. He is slated to be discharged successfully early next week. As previously reported, this young man started a discussion group, which met weekly to discuss current events and other important topics. He graduated with a 3.2 GPA and has been recognized by the high school principal for his exemplary behavior.

Another young man who also graduated from Richard Montgomery High School graduate  is slated to be discharged tomorrow successfully.

One of the JCT residents is attending summer school for Algebra. He is active on the football team, attending workouts and scrimmages and is employed at a local restaurant. He has shown significant improvement in terms of learning how to channel his frustration and use his coping mechanisms.

Two of our younger residents graduated from middle school this June. One has made significant progress in learning how to manage his emotions. The other has been recruited by a local high school football coach and begins practice tomorrow! He has had a few setbacks but he’s a resilient kid.

Another young man who graduated from Richard Montgomery High school went on his first home pass on the weekend of the 19th and thoroughly enjoyed being with his family. He is currently looking for employment and opportunities to do community service. 

A young resident who has been employed at Noodles and Company is scheduled to take the GED test this month. He has done well in saving his money and budgeting.

Our newest arrival to JCT is doing well and will be starting a job tomorrow morning. He was employed at this location previously and the manager has been willing to assist him since he returned to the area; his boss will be driving him to/from work. When you invest in another person, you can make a big difference in their life!

We are so proud of all the boys for their hard work in spite of setbacks and disappointments. We are also proud of the staff team at JCT for their dedicated support to the young men. JCT Program Manager Tish Solomon will be hosting an appreciation luncheon for her staff this month to thank them for their efforts, dedication and their investment not only in JCT but to each and every young person that comes through the doors.