HARLINGEN — The dream of advocacy for children that began in La Feria in 1936 continues.
Sunny Glen Children’s Home is opening their newest location in Harlingen in addition to a thrift shop along with supervised independent living for teenagers.
Chase Palmer, Executive Director, said the idea of a Harlingen location had been on the board’s future plans since 2018. The new location is at 101 E. Jackson Ave. with the thrift shop on bottom and independent living on the second floor.
Palmer said once the building was on the market and the organization had enough funds, it was a done deal.
Amy and Dr. Monte Allen contributed the most to the cause, which has earned them the honor of having their names as the official title of the living space. The dedication of the independent living and thrift shop is today at noon.
The store is called Vintage on Jackson, which will include gently used clothing and furniture among other items. All the proceeds will go toward the independent living as well as the San Benito location.
The program is focused on young adults who have turned 18 in foster care.
“About 30 percent of foster youth when they turn 18 they age out and immediately become homeless,” Palmer said.
“What we wanted to do is create space not only for kids from Sunny Glen but maybe from the community who need a little bit more freedom but a safety net, too,” he said.
Donor Amy Allen said her church congregation supports Sunny Glen and she grew up knowing about the organization. When she and her husband moved to Laredo, their church there supported it, too. Amy visited a few times and in 2015 her husband told her he wanted to make a significant donation. The couple wanted to visit but was not able to, then her husband passed away.
Because of that Amy wanted to do another donation in his honor. She was told about the idea of the living center and she thought it was a great idea.
“I thought it was perfect because my husband was all about education and helping young people in how to be independent and become self-sufficient adults,” Amy said.
“I felt this is something he would have supported because it allows you to learn how to support yourself and move forward regardless of what happened in your past,” she said.
The independent living will consist of eight to 10 beds and will be available to be filled out. Palmer added a case manager will be monitoring the children.
An application process will choose who gets to receive a space proceeding with an interview.
Palmer said Downtown Harlingen was the perfect location because Sunny Glen has always wanted to connect more with Harlingen. This location allows that to happen, he said.
“It was a unique space that would allow us to do a retail space downstairs and a residential living upstairs,” Palmer said.
“UTRGV is not too far and a lot of part-time jobs are close by,” he said.
The teenagers can stay until they are 22. Two of them will be in each room, the accommodations are welcoming and look stylish. Palmer added a media room will be added with computers for them to be comfortable and work on homework.
“We wanted to make sure they could be given the opportunity to experience independence but still have accountability,” Palmer said.
This is the first supervised independent living created by Sunny Glen. Teenagers from all over the state are welcome to apply.
“We always want to help our children. Our campus in San Benito has up to 35 beds there and we just wanted to give our kids graduating high school, hope,” he said.
“Any child that we can help become a productive contributing member of our society we want to try to invest in them and these kids are worth the investment,” Palmer said.