Building a Legacy in Northern Colorado

One of The Matthews House Transition Facilitators going into the Youth and Family Center with a youth he works with. Photo provided by Matthew's House.

The Matthews House started in 2006 when Jerri Schmitz, Founder, and Executive Director saw a need in Larimer County and decided to do something about it. In the early 2000s, through a few interactions she had with people in Old Town, she realized there weren’t any resources for kids aging out of the foster care system, which left kids with no support system at 18 years old. One particular interaction was with a young man in Old Town who had aged out of the system and had nowhere to go. He was coach surfing and homeless. After teaming up with a friend who was a licensed social worker The Matthews House was born. They dreamed of creating a safe place where at-risk youth could escape poverty and abuse. Their dream quickly became a reality, and soon every child aging out of foster care was being referred to the program. 

“Without The Matthews House, I would probably be living in a car, addicted to drugs, without my children or a future to look forward to. Instead, we live as a family in a loving home and have an amazing future ahead of us. I am a survivor.” – Parent Participant

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The Matthews House’s innovative approach was working! They were pulling youth out of the “raging river” and getting them on stable ground, but why were they falling in, to begin with? It wasn’t long before they moved “upstream” to work with families. They figured if they could reach families early enough, helping them gain stability, kids could avoid being placed in foster care in the first place.

Now, 14 years later, Schmitz is retiring and plans to travel around in her fifth-wheel with her husband visiting grandchildren, but she is leaving behind a legacy at The Matthews House. Thanks to Schmitz’s courage and wisdom in starting The Matthews House, thousands of lives have been put on a path to a positive future. They are fulfilling their mission of empowering at-risk youth and families by building trusting relationships and providing resources to disrupt the cycles of poverty and abuse.

Schmitz, along with many people along the way, has built an organization that loves people well. The Matthews House staff uses a holistic and trauma-informed approach when working with their clients. They help people get to the root cause of their current situation rather than just address the symptoms. This leads to sustainable change. For instance, if they just address substance abuse and not their unhealthy living situation it is not a matter of if the person will relapse, it is when. In all of their programs they focus on five main areas – 1) Physical/Mental Health 2) Housing 3) Education 4) Employment 5) Life Skills. The Matthews House helps people increase their skills, but also realize the protective factor is relationships. They believe it is crucial for people to know they have purpose and value in life! 

The Matthews House will continue the legacy Schmitz has built as long as their services are needed in our community. In 2020, Kelly Schramm will take the reins as Executive Director. He has 18+ years of experience in community development and project management and is the perfect person for the job. 

To honor the 14 years Schmitz has dedicated to the youth and families in our community The Matthews House is launching a two-week campaign with the goal of raising $150,000 to help continue the great work being done. The Matthews House is a crucial resource for Larimer County, so they are asking the community to support community. Follow along December 3-16 on their social media to hear and read stories over the last 14 years and visit TheMatthewsHouse.org to learn more. Please consider being a part of disrupting cycles of poverty and abuse in Northern Colorado by contributing to the Building a Legacy Campaign. 

This weekend is a benefit show Uplift FoCo with proceeds benefitting Matthews House.

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