At their 2016 Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast On June 24, 2016, Vista Maria, a social services organization in Dearborn Heights, MI that delivers innovative care, support, treatment, and education to vulnerable youth, honored Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis with their 2016 Outstanding Corporate Partner award. Angela Aufdemberge, President and CEO of Vista Maria, noted that key programs on the campus would not exist without Affordable Housing Program grants from FHLBI.
“The Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis is passionate about affordable housing, about homelessness, about organized nonprofits that are skilled, thoughtful, and relentless in these areas. Our projects would not have been done without them,” she said. “We have a responsibility to all of the communities we serve to adapt to change. To think innovatively. To learn and to grow for those that we serve. We will not give up until abuse and neglect is gone.”
Jim Eibel, Senior Account Director at the bank, gave credit where credit is due in his remarks accepting the award on behalf of FHLBI.
“Our members, like Amerisure and Talmer Bank and Trust, who partnered with Vista Maria, are our hands and feet,” Jim said. “Often we stay in the background. That’s where we belong. We cannot do anything without our members.
“Since 1990, we have given away more than $160 million through our members who show up time and time again to work in their communities for affordable housing solutions. We also want to thank Vista Maria for making it so easy to say ‘yes’ and for making us look really smart.”
Programs make a difference
Earlier in the weekend, Angela talked about the organization’s mission and reach as she led a tour of their campus in Dearborn Heights, MI. As a nonprofit, Vista Maria is efficient and cost effective, she said, spending 87 cents of every dollar (100 cents) on client programming*.
“We are excellent stewards of the gifts we’re given, whether that is $1 or $1 million. We’re relentless in measuring outcomes to determine how we can do this better, year after year.”
Their program statistics bear out that claim:
- They successfully transitioned 32 young women to independence since the inception of the Shepherd Hall project.
- They enhanced after care services with 92 clients, creating new beginnings that last.
- 88 percent of their residential clients achieve or exceed their treatment goals.
- 98 percent of foster youth in their care enjoy a successful transition.
- They serve 400+ kids in Michigan each month.
- They serve 1,000 kids (unduplicated) in a year.
Beginning in 2011, FHLBI members have participated in securing AHP grants for three projects at Vista Maria, for a total of $1,750,000. Below are the three projects FHLBI grants have help fund.
Shepherd Hall was the first project done with Amerisure and a FHLBI AHP grant in 2012. The venture created 22 dorm style apartments to provide safe, affordable living space for young women who are aging out of the social services network. It helps them transition to a more independent life by providing them with education and employment plans, Angela said.
“We’re the encouragers, plotters, and planners who help them succeed,” she said. Often that means providing individualized support, peer and group support, educational plans, mentoring, life skills coaching, and other transition-care services.
The second project Vista Maria did with Amerisure and a second FHLBI AHP grant created the one-of-a-kind program, Wings, that treats young women rescued from the human sexual trafficking market and helps them reintegrate into society. Wings is housed in the new DeRoy Hall and all 16 units are currently full with young women Vista Maria is working to stabilize.
“When these children are pulled out of sexual trafficking in a raid by law enforcement, even as they’re rescuing the child, they’re creating another trauma for her,” Angela said. “She is being ripped out of what she’s known as family—and many are also addicted.”
The two-phase Wings program first provides the girls, ages 11-18, with an intensive 18-month treatment program of individualized therapy for the girls and their family members. In the first nine months, the program helps them build and reclaim their lost childhood by creating celebrations, rituals, and rites of passage, while they recover from the trauma.
In the second nine months, the residents work on life skills development, educational goals, reintegration into the community through outings and service projects, mentoring, employment and career development sessions, and leadership development.
The newest effort, this time in partnership with FHLBI member Talmer Bank & Trust, enabled the rebuilding and renovation of Myriam Hall into 10 units for young women ages 11-18, plus one bedroom set aside for emergency intakes. Vista Maria expects to have their occupancy permit for this building within a month or two.
*The Charities Review Council recommends charities spend at least 65% of their total annual expenses on their stated programs, and not more than 35% on administration and fundraising combined.