Naples, FL (March 9, 2021)

Youth Haven, Inc. is excited to share the success story of Merci, an 18-year-old teen from Rob’s Group Home, Youth Haven’s transitional living cottage for homeless unaccompanied teens. Merci has recently been spotlighted by various media outlets as a recipient of GL Homes’ Good Night’s Sleep initiative which donated funds so she could purchase much-needed household items from St. Matthew’s House thrift store.

However, the first step to making a successful transition to adulthood stemmed from support from the United Way of Collier and the Keys.

In May 2020, Youth Haven was a recipient of a $65,000 grant from the United Way of Collier and the Keys. The funds received benefited Youth Haven’s Rapid Re-Housing Program which supports teens ages 16 -19 that reside in Rob’s Group Home, as they leave the program and advance into transitional living or student housing. The Rapid Re-Housing Program is critical in preventing teens transitioning out of Rob’s Group Home and the foster care system from becoming homeless. Financial assistance is provided as needed for application fees, rent payments, move-in costs, deposits, and utility expenses. Not only does the financial assistance help homeless teens move into housing, but for some, it also encourages them to pursue a college education that will further stabilize them when they are able to earn higher wages upon graduation.

Currently a student at Florida SouthWestern State College, Merci didn’t always have the stable environment she now has. Her high school counsellor recognized her struggles and recommended Youth Haven. While Merci was worried about being labeled “homeless”, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to change her life. Youth Haven’s Homeless Teen Transitional Living Program and Rob’s Group Home helped her achieve her goal of continuing her education and finding her own apartment through its Rapid Re-Housing Program. After a childhood filled with insecurity, she’s thrilled to be making a successful transition into adulthood. Merci shared, “I’m in the process of making my dreams a reality.”

“It’s truly amazing when you see a donation in fruition. The United Way of Collier and the Key’s extremely generous gift is currently in the process of changing lives,” said Linda Goldfield, Youth Haven Executive Director. “Thanks to their support of Youth Haven’s Rapid Re-Housing Program, Merci now has a place to call home, breaking the cycle of homelessness. We’re extremely thankful for this donation and all the community partners that have helped to provide Merci with the future she deserves.”

To learn more about Merci or Youth Haven’s life-changing program, please contact Laura Lafakis, Youth Haven Associate Director of Development, at (239) 774-2904 or email

About Youth Haven, Inc.
Youth Haven, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, is Collier County’s only emergency and residential emergency shelter for boys and girls ages 6 – 18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. In continuous operation since 1972, Youth Haven’s 25-acre therapeutic campus houses over 70 youth with a waking staff system that allows for around-the-clock specialized care. Also situated on its campus is Rob’s Group Home, Youth Haven’s transitional living cottage, which provides comprehensive 24-hour care, with a longer average length of stay, for homeless unaccompanied teenagers ages 16 -19. Youth Haven is a COA nationally accredited organization, a member agency of the United Way of Collier County, a Naples Children & Education Foundation grant recipient, and holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Its mission is focused on protecting and empowering children and teens in Southwest Florida through comprehensive care and community collaboration. For more information, please visit or call 239-774-2904. Follow Youth Haven on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


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