By SHERIDAN CYR
Living in Safe Alternatives (LISA), Inc., a Southington-based non-profit organization with arms stretched across the state, offers an array of programs to assist teens in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. The organization strives to support youth into adulthood who come from troubled backgrounds such as trauma, abuse, foster care, or addiction.
LISA, Inc. has been around for about 40 years. In 1987, six-year-old Lisa Steinberg died due to injuries caused by years of physical abuse by her parents. Then-executive director Robert Brown named the nonprofit organization after her.
“Robert wanted the name to reflect real youth who have been subjected to these situations,” explained current executive director Kim Selvaggi. According to her, LISA, Inc.’s goal is to work with as many teens as possible to provide a safe place to develop real-world life skills and to prepare them for adulthood.
“These youth carry a lot of baggage with them,” said Selvaggi. “Many have experienced trauma, and have not been connected with a mainstream loving family. Lots of them have been moving around all their lives and lack stability.”
LISA, Inc. offers many programs to assist their clients. Some teach them how to budget and shop, how to apply for a lease, or buy a car. They offer career guidance and academic support. They hold informational programs for families looking to foster. They do what they can to help guide youth to be strong, independent, resilient and capable.
The organization’s Plainville program, Lisa’s Wish, is a structured independent living environment for young women ages 17-20 with on-site, comprehensive case management including medical, therapeutic, educational and other pertinent outreaches. The girls live in the home, and take part in empowering groups that take on career guidance, ethics and responsibilities, drug abuse and prevention and more while they reside.
In Bristol, LISA, Inc. offers SAIL: supervised apartments and independent living. Here, youths take part in many similar programs as the Plainville home, but with increased independence. They have an apartment of their own within the building. Staff members have offices in the home but are kept apart from the residents. This program is open to boys and girls ages 18+. When a youth enters, they are assigned a Case Coordinator who will follow along with them throughout their stay, which averages six months to three years.
Recently in Southington, LISA, Inc. partnered with S.T.E.P.S, Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success, with a three-part program for in-school drug and alcohol prevention. Part one educates teachers on signs of risk, part two helps parents with Hope and Recovery groups, and part three involves group interventions. This is an ongoing and developing program.
LISA, Inc. will be holding a holiday open house at the Plainville center on Tuesday, Nov. 28 to celebrate the season and to learn about the Wish Upon a Star initiative. Staff will collect residents’ holiday wish lists and display them at the open house. People will be able to either donate money to buy the gifts for the youth, or they can retrieve a gift from the list themselves and bring it to the home. Stop by any time between 4 and 6:30 p.m.
For confidentiality, the address of the Plainville home cannot be disclosed. To attend the event, contact Liz Hyatt at (860) 426-0946 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who cannot make it to the open house but wish to provide a gift or donation to the home, there is still time after the event.
For more information on LISA, Inc., visit lisainc.org.