Staff Profile: Meet the Mentor of Salem House

By Jordan Upton

With the help of donors, board members, and the community, AGAPE of NC was able to open the Salem House in 2017. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this house allows for young men aged 18 to 21 who are near to aging out of the foster care system to reside with a house mentor. Here they gain invaluable resources such as job training, resume building, and life skills that will be utilized after their stay at the Salem House.

Currently there are four residents at Salem House under the tutelage of Mr. Larry Dais. Mr. Dais, a recent retiree from the electronic industry, is the foster parent who serves as guardian, teacher, and mentor to these four young men. When asked how he became involved with AGAPE, Dais explained, “There’s a gentleman I go to church with, Joe Hall, and he is a member of the board of directors of AGAPE. And he approached me one day and asked if I would be interested in fostering these 18 to 21 year old boys. And I thought about it for a week or so, and thought it might be something I’d like to do.” This was only the first step on the path that would lead Larry to the Salem House.

The next step for Mr. Dais was to become certified in Foster Care, which is a North Carolina statute to serve in this capacity in the system. After training alongside Mrs. Grace Hepler for ten to eleven months, which included exhaustive and extensive research on scenarios, state rules and regulations, as well as understanding the values associated with AGAPE, Mr. Dais passed his state licensure test in June of 2017.

When asked what a typical day at the Salem House looks like, Larry explained that school and work are first and foremost. Any remaining time available around those two areas include family-type interactions with each other where adult responsibilities such as chores and budgeting are discussed. Additionally, Larry stated his intent to teach the boys skills like writing a resume, how to perform well during an interview, and how to properly fill out job applications. Larry also has hopes of bringing in volunteers to show their certain areas of expertise, such as cooking, to the residents of the house.

neonbrand-618320-unsplash.jpg

When asked about what members of the community can do to help the Salem House and the foster care community as a whole Mr. Dais said that they need “volunteer[s] to teach these boys about life; how to be adults. We could even have families come in to talk about family dynamics. Hopefully one day these young men will become dads or fathers. And with these break-ups and disconnects they’ve gone through in their lives, I’m sure a lot of them have no real model for how to be a dad, how to be part of a family. So I would just really encourage folks to get involved.”

Whether you are in the Winston-Salem community and are willing and able to volunteer your time to help these boys learn how to expertly navigate adulthood, or you just get the word out about the Salem House, Mr. Dais strongly urges to be an advocate for not only AGAPE and the Salem House in particular, but of fostering as a whole and describes his short time fostering as incredibly satisfying. Donating your time, money, or materials to worthwhile projects such as the Salem House benefits all involved and helps to maintain a community of love, care, and fellowship. Even if it is as small as donating a jar of peanut butter. As Mr. Dais told me, “We could always use another jar of peanut butter.”

Thank you for Salem House

by Kim Scott

Director of AGAPE of NC

teenboy.jpg

In response to the needs of North Carolina’s young adults in the foster care system, AGAPE launched SALEM HOUSE — a home located in the Winston Salem area that caters to an independent living environment for young males (18-21 years old) aging out of foster care. SALEM HOUSE opened to accept young men from all over North Carolina in October.

We recognize the churches who contributed or pledged items/funds as a congregation or whose members made donations individually (Trust us, HE knows your names!):  36th Street Church of Christ, Vienna, WVA Friendly Avenue Church of Christ, Greensboro, NC North Raleigh Church of Christ, Raleigh, NC Raleigh Church of Christ, Raleigh, NC Oak Forest Church of Christ, Goldsboro, NC Roosevelt Drive Church of Christ, Jacksonville, NC

AGAPE cannot thank you enough for your help to get SALEM HOUSE up and running!

The young men who come to live at SALEM HOUSE will be going to school, finding jobs, and building lasting relationships as they transition to independent living. We trust you and others will continue support for the future of SALEM HOUSE and the lasting Change for Life this home will make in the lives of these young men!

...and AGAPE wants to build on this success! Females (18-21 years old) are also aging out of the foster care system in North Carolina and need help in their transition to independent living. So, stay tuned as we plan to open a similar home for young women!