Whitney Gilliard is providing a lifeline to young adults who need it the most.
Whitney Gilliard’s company G&Co. has established the Independent Living Program (ILP) which provides transitional housing for kids who have turned 18 years old and are no longer served by foster care. ILP—located in Savannah—has the capacity for 16 young adults who go through the screening and evaluation process and are able to make commitments to work and school while being involved with the program.
Whitney says “ILP stemmed from my own experience of aging out of foster care at 21. I know firsthand how unforgiving the world can be. ILP exists because I wanted to make sure that others were not treated the way I was treated.”
After being in foster care herself, Whitney says working from within the system has shown her that, “There really are two sides to the story, and now that I see how much red tape there is, I try to find ways to take it off.” She says she has also learned, “There are many helpers out there trying to help the kids who don’t have a voice.”
As a CEO who is also a working case manager at G&Co., Whitney says, “Being successful depends on having teammates who know more than you do and being able to access that information. I love my staff and our Board of Directors because they complete our organization.” She says, “Diversity, from the staff to the board, strengthens our organization and provides visible role models to the young people we serve. We are much more formidable in our diversity.”
Whitney says her life, from being a foster care youth to being the CEO of her own non-profit, has been an incredible journey. She says, “It’s hard to believe sometimes that I am in business. As a little girl growing up, I never thought I would even talk to someone in business, and I certainly never thought I would be a part of this circle. “When asked for advice she says it’s pretty simple:
“Don’t act when angry, don’t promise when happy, and don’t make decisions when you are sad.”
Programs at G&Co.
In addition to the Independent Living Program, G&Co. manages other programs to assist at-risk children and families, including:
Permanency Mentor Program - Lifelong mentors work with the young adults to provide life skills support.
HavINN Trauma Intervention Room - a warm safe room—instead of an office space—where a volunteer will sit with and help supervise a child while placement is found.
With Love Project - developed through Whitney’s personal experience as one of the teens in foster care who depended on the community for the meaning of Christmas, G&Co works with the community to fulfill Christmas wishes for all children in our local Division of Family and Child Services (DFACS).
- Written by Pooler Magazine