By Erica Limon,
Associate Director of Workforce Development
Young people come through our doors from all backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, survival modes, life skills, and more. Our work is often to lay the foundation of support for young people to see and have their brilliance shine. Our work is the long game of ending youth homelessness in our community. Our goal and responsibility is to support young people with basic needs, housing, preventative measures, education and employment—our ways of laying down the foundation for youth and young adults. To be a service provider in this work is an honor; it is a privilege to love and be a part of our young people’s lives. I, for one, could not be prouder of our young people.
We see young people each and every day redefine grit, resilience, and resistance; we see young people push and disrupt systems—sometimes that system being our own continuum of care; we see young people teach us the power of pulling up seats at tables and giving voice to those who historically haven’t had one. We see young people push us to serve them better—to shift programs and services to be more inclusive, culturally relevant, and representative. Thanks to a young person’s voice, YouthCare’s Workforce Development Department has had the honor of supporting the creation of a special Clearpath Internship.
Over the past three years, a client of YouthCare has been navigating their way through our continuum of care and services ranging from shelter, housing, education, and employment support. This young person identified the need for youth to have folks who looked like them reflected in their employment opportunities. Employer Engagement Specialist Bella Bowman was not shy about ensuring this youth felt seen, heard, valued, and included. In response, Bella developed and supported a partnership between Noir Lux Candle Co., a black-owned and woman-owned candle company, and YouthCare. Colina Bruce, the owner of Noir Lux, has been instrumental in supporting and helping this young person develop their employment skills.
Noir Lux Candle Co. was born in Colina’s kitchen, and this young person came in ready to learn and grow. From pouring candles, to processing orders and selling at vendors markets, this young person leaned into every aspect of running small business. In learning candle-making and the ins and outs of running a small business, Colina is inspiring this young person’s next steps in life.
This opportunity for education, experience, and connection has been invaluable. What may be an untraditional internship opportunity could also be considered a mutually beneficial partnership. As Noir Lux continues to grow and expand to a brick and mortar location, this young person will continue to be involved along the way.
This candle’ signature scent of satsuma, white birch, and ginger was created by a young person exiting homelessness.
As part of their internship, this young person created a signature candle entitled “Home is Power”. This young person’s creation is rooted in warmth, hope, love, and power and inspired by home and their time in YouthCare’s Young Adult Housing Services. I hope you purchase this candle in honor of our young people. When lit, may it reflect the power of voice, growth, and belonging that lights the path forward for our young people.