With love, support and a new state-of-the-art learning center, traumatized kids can find a path to peaceful adulthood and lifelong success at Eagle Village.

Imagine being a kid who never had an ice cream cone. Never received a wrapped Christmas present, or had a birthday cake just for them.

Imagine growing up experiencing trauma and living without a stable family, the kind that could demonstrate life skills, help you get into college, guide you through a job search.

How would you succeed in life?

There are 14,000 foster kids in Northern Michigan; they all have big dreams. Fifty-two percent of them hope to go to college. But 32 percent won’t complete high school, and 25 percent will be homeless by age 22.

Eagle Village is a 681-acre residential campus in Osceola County that provides therapy, education, family support, career training and, most important, a loving and stable home for kids who have been removed from their families for reasons of neglect, abandonment or abuse.

“We want to step in, hear their stories, guide them out of their dark past and into the light to see their potential and intrinsic value,” says Carol Hyble, Vice President of Advancement at Eagle Village. The kids often find stability and unconditional love here for the first time in their lives, and even when they grow into adulthood, they still call to check-in or get a little love and affirmation—for many, it’s the one place they think of as home.

Eagle Village has been changing young lives since 1968, but their newest initiative is one they hope to share with young adults and even adults in the area—a career and trade center. The center opened in August and features specialized classrooms for different career trainings. There’s a health services room, where students can receive their certified nursing assistant certification, and an IT lab, where they can earn 1-A certification for help desk positions. There’s also a welding lab with a welding simulation, and a program offering three levels of certification, as well as a small engine lab, car detailing lab, and home services lab, where kids learn to fix anything from a leaky faucet to a broken dishwasher.

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Students can gain hands-on experience by working on the campus, which is home to 51 buildings and “endless opportunities for real-life work,” Hyble says. With reputable certifications, their chances of landing good jobs increase exponentially, which in turn helps combat the rising homelessness rates among children aging out of the foster system.

Residents also receive counseling in essential skills, financial management, resume building, interview skills and independent living so that once they do age out, they’ll be able to succeed.

“You think about an 18-year-old who doesn’t have a family, structure, accountability,” Hyble says. “They get help with a place to live and some stipends, but as far as training, we want them to have more than, ‘Gosh, we hope it all works out.’ Here, we’re excited about developing something within them and giving them a path to succeed.”

Donations to Eagle Village do more than just pay for counseling staff or classrooms—they restore hope in kids who have lost it, and help them reach their potential.

“They’ve had so many people give up on them,” says Hyble. “They’re so strong because they survived … they don’t see themselves that way, but eventually, this program helps get them to see themselves in a very different way.”