Cherokee FOCUS is a 501(c)3 non-profit built on the foundation of community collaboration and strength in partnerships. Our mission centers around helping youth today become educated, employed, strong, stable, healthy and drug free adults tomorrow. FOCUS developed the first "Cherokee" Zombie Fest in 2013 as a fund raiser to support our programs and initiatives that include:
- The Cherokee Youth Works (CYW) program for youth and young adults ages 16 - 24. CYW provides a comprehensive portfolio of services including paid and unpaid work experience, GED preparation and testing, college preparation, work readiness, finance classes and life skills training. While we strive to use our collaborative partners to help with any supportive services needed, we often find that there are no funds available to assist a youth participant with even a small thing that could keep him or her in class or on the job. Through the additional funds from the Georgia Zombie Fest, we are able to provide a variety of supports to help these young people succeed such as: clothing for a new job, bus fare and gas money when needed on occasion to get to work, shelter if needed until housing is found, college application fees, and certification programs to help them get a higher wage job. CYW had 11 of our 2016 GED graduates go on to college. Other participants went on to employment in jobs with a livable wage and have been able to become self-sufficient and look forward to a brighter future.
- The Drug Free Cherokee prevention initiative is a cross-section of community organizations and individuals working together on the prevention of drug and alcohol use among youth. One organization or individual alone cannot tackle the crisis that we face today but together we can reach more of our young people through strategic planning and action. In order to have the greatest impact and positive outcomes with youth, the Cherokee Youth Council (CYC) was established to advise and help direct DFC. The CYC is made up of middle and high school age students representing a diverse population of young people who can provide to the adults, first hand knowledge of the challenges that they face regarding drugs and alcohol. This youth group is instrumental in helping to develop DFC campaigns, marketing materials, commercials, events and policy change!
- Hotel to Home is another great initiative growing out of community collaboration. With a common interest in finding solutions for our homeless families, Hotel to Home was born. It is our goal to reach those families with children, who are currently living in hotels/motels throughout the community and that are working full time. With just one thing, a hand up, these families can stop paying weekly hotel rates and get into affordable housing be it an apartment, rental house or trailer. Once the move is made, budgeting classes and some guidance can keep these families, these children, in a safer more stable environment. It is only in a more stable environment that these families can live a healthier lifestyle. The children of these working families certainly get a boost to their self-esteem and sense of safety that is reflected in their educational outcomes and future successes.
- Volunteer Cherokee is a database run by community non-profits with volunteer opportunities for families and individuals. Visit VolunteerCherokee.org to find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you!
- As a part of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership network, the Cherokee FOCUS Collaborative meets monthly to network, share resources, exchange ideas and celebrate each other's successes in the continuing work to better the lives of the children and families in our community. The Collaborative brings together non-profits, faith community, education, healthcare, law enforcement, family focused agencies/organizations and individuals to accomplish work around community issues that one organization or individual could not accomplish alone.