In 2003, Jerri Schmitz met a young man in Old Town Fort Collins. He had just aged out of foster care, which resulted in him couch-surfing and living on the streets. Jerri told him she was going to do some research and find resources for him. It turns out, back in the early 2000’s, there weren’t any resources for kids aging out of foster care in Larimer County. “Well, someone should do something about that,” Jerri recalls thinking. That thought sparked the flame that eventually became The Matthews House.
The Matthews House was incorporated in 2005 and began working with youth in 2006. Jerri Schmitz and Sara Mitchell, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, launched the nonprofit together. 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.
The Matthews House’s innovative approach was working! We were doing a great job 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 we started working “upstream” with families. We figured if we could reach families early enough, helping them gain stability, kids could avoid being placed in foster care in the first place.
The Matthews House now works with over 3,200 youth and families annually. We are growing with purpose, filling in service gaps to meet the needs of our community. We work collaboratively with many nonprofits, businesses, and public entities to best address the needs of participants. The Matthews House offers both intervention and prevention programming, walking alongside youth and families as they work their way from crisis to thriving.