Project Kompass ~ KANE’S KORNER

Housing, Independent Living Skills for Homeless Young Adults


Kane didn’t know which way to look first when he entered the Project Kompass Home in North Chelmsford.

Should he look around the beautiful, tidy, and cheerful home or look at the inviting and confident face of Founder, Executive Director Ronnie Hoey?

Kane learned that word “homeless shelter” is not spoken to describe the beautiful home that provides housing, mentoring, financial planning, career development skills and mental and wellbeing support to homeless young adults in North Chelmsford, and the same for homeless young moms in the Lowell House Location. Kane agreed this sure doesn’t look like a “typical” shelter.

The home is warm and inviting. As some of you may know, Kane was a homeless puppy so he has an interest in programs that assist people and animals find their way from the streets to independence. This is not an easy task to accomplish as the cost of living rises.

Ronnie is extremely passionate about her work that she and cofounder David Aldrich envisioned and ultimately built independently without state and federal financial support.

Amazingly a key and unique component is the program does not have the limitations of federal and state funding allowing for an immediate and quick response to housing people in need as opposed to the paperwork shuffle that keeps people waiting in dangerous situations for weeks or sometimes months.

Both founder David Aldrich and Ronnie Hoey, without the limitations of federal and state housing, are not limited to cookie cutter services. As Ronnie stated, “Project Kompass meets residents where they are, so each resident’s plan is unique to the participants needs.”

For example, with state regulations you might be back out on the street on your 24th birthday due to the age restrictions of government agencies. In contrast Project Kompass has the option of making an exception if the client has housing set up after their 24th birthday or a job starting after the 24th birthday. In other words, the program truly focuses on the individual needs of the client.

The average stay in the program (homelessness to independence) is 16 months. Participating in Project Kompass includes a commitment to 32 hours of work or full-time school / training program. Each young adult participates in life skill training, hands on financial training, and weekly case management and mentoring.

Ronnie explained to Kane that the program is set up for motivated young adults willing to work hard to create their personal independence. The program is not designed for those solely looking for a temporary housing option. Incorporated in Jan 2020 as a 501C3, Project Kompass opened their North Chelmsford house in 2020, housing 9 participants in private rooms and in 2021 opened their Lowell house, housing 7 mothers and their babies in private rooms.

Kane explained that Ronnie certainly has her fingers on resources in the local community. She excels as a relationship builder, so each participant has the resources to build their unique independence plan. Ronnie excitedly explained that a new partnership with Hidden Pond Derry, LLC will provide Animal Assisted Therapy for participants including equine care and riding.

Kane was excited to learn that the participants are all from the local community. With the average local cost of an apartment being $1,800.00 per month it is no wonder we are seeing an increase in homelessness. Can you imagine this cost as a single person or a young adult with a baby? Even splitting the cost with a roommate would be high after paying for transportation, food, and utilities and potentially childcare. Ronnie explained to Kane that some of the clients are referred to Project Kompass by the local agencies and self-referred. The participants are also required to take part in daily chores and abide by a curfew.

So how does Project Kompass get funded? It is funded through generous donors and the donations of the community who has embraced this unique model. To make a donation please visit and click on the donation tab at the top of the website. The program also relies on the support of volunteers to provide essential skills to the participants such as life skill training, job readiness and parenting support.

Other volunteer opportunities include organizing community events and fundraising. Either way check on the website to learn more about Project Kompass. As for Ronnie Hoey, well she is one in a million. Kane was very happy to meet her acquaintance and was mesmerized by her passion and energy.

Kane Peaslee, Columnist
Valley Patriot ◊