Family Support Center’s LifeStart Village continues to lend a helping hand
Aug 05, 2020 03:31PM
By Carl Fauver
The Family Support Center in Taylorsville provides countless social programs to assist people in need throughout the Salt Lake Valley. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
A pair of women who have overcome tremendous challenges in their own lives are now working in tandem to help others achieve similar levels of success through the Family Support Center in Taylorsville (1760 West 4805 South).
Jocelyn De La Rosa and Heidi Lund started their jobs at the same time a year ago as Family Support Center executive director and LifeStart Village director, respectively. LifeStart Village is the 46-unit low-income, single-parent housing facility operated in Midvale (777 West Center Street) by the Family Support Center.
It's a far cry from where Jocelyn began her life as the daughter of Mexican immigrants who spoke Spanish as her first language. And it’s even farther from where Heidi was eight years ago coming out of her second stint in drug rehabilitation, homeless with two young kids in tow.
“LifeStart Village has literally created the person I am today,” Lund said. “I found people who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. And it absolutely improved my relationship with my kids.”
A criminal record made it difficult for Lund to find work when she and her kids first moved into LifeStart Village. But eventually, she became a family resource facilitator for Salt Lake County, leading to her hiring as LifeStart Village director. She’s also been able to purchase one of the village’s adjacent townhouses for herself.
De La Rosa, meanwhile, overcame her own obstacles before moving out of Southern California seven years ago.
“I am a first-generation college graduate in my family and was supported all along the way by my community,” she said. “That’s what drew me to work with nonprofits. It was my time to give back and help others.”
De La Rosa earned a bachelor’s degree at BYU–Idaho along with a master’s in business management and leadership through the Salt Lake-based Western Governors University.
Built 17 years ago, LifeStart Village in Midvale was the brainchild of former Family Support Center Executive Director Dr. Jane Wolf.
“This was an entirely new venture for the Family Support Center—to provide low-income housing for single parents,” De La Rosa said. “We have served hundreds of families. People who make it to Phase II of the program have a 92% success rate.”
As described on its website (familysupportcenter.org/lifestart-village), “the mission of the Family Support Center's LifeStart Village is to move single parents with children from dependency to self-sufficiency. In FSC's LifeStart Village, single parents and their children move from homelessness or near homelessness into safe, stable housing where they develop the necessary skills to create a stable, nurturing environment.”
As one her first priorities after becoming the village’s manager last year, Lund hoped to shorten the facility’s waiting list.
“When I began as director there were 174 people on the waiting list,” she said. “But I began calling to make sure they were still interested and quickly winnowed the list down. Housing vouchers also became available (through other agencies) which reduced demand even more. Our current wait list is only about two to three months, the shortest it has been in the eight years I have been here.”
LifeStart Village is the only program the Family Support Center operates with no state or federal tax funding. It’s $700,000 per year budget is covered partially by modest rental income ($350–$800 monthly) but primarily through privately funded donations and grants.
In addition to housing, the site offers a series of instructional courses, covering everything from cooking, cleaning and organizing to parenting and financial literacy skills.
LifeStart Village eligibility requirements can be found at the web address mentioned above. Further details are also available at 801-635-8142.