One of the goals of Connections Homes is to move adolescents from homelessness, abuse and trauma to what we call Connected Independent Living.
Today, we’re experiencing the reality of that in one of our girls and the feeling is certainly bittersweet.
When we first met this sweet little fighter, she was homeless, lonely and scared. We met her a year and a half ago after being connected with her through our Pastors who had recently become aware of her story. On that day, we met a girl who could barely look me in the eye as she shared her history of abandonment, abuse and tragedy with me. Her only possessions on that day were the clothes on her back and a pre-paid phone that our church had provided.
Now more than a year later, as we move her into her first apartment, we can’t help but to reflect on the journey we’ve shared. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Her First Christmas List. You would have thought that we’d asked her to write the President’s State of the Union address when we asked her for a Christmas list. She didn’t know where to start, how to do it or what to ask for. At 18, she’d never been made a Christmas list, or ever gotten a Christmas present. Now into our second Christmas together, she’s figured it out quite well.
- Starting College. We’ll never forget the day she was accepted to Georgia State and had an official schedule. She was so excited that she glowed and cried. There was a point in her life that she wondered if her dream of college would ever happen; that hopelessness nearly destroyed her. She’s now finishing her first semester toward a law degree, or social work degree or any one of a dozen majors she’ll change in the next few years.
- First “Real” Job. Since the day we met her she’s been a hard worker; however, most of her jobs have been cash paying or minimum wage. She recently got her first job that she had to interview for, submit a resume, go through a background check and drug screening. Every part of the process resulted in discussions on what to expect, how to handle it and to relax!
There’ve been many other firsts along the way but the most important was finding belonging for the first time. That scared, lonely and homeless young girl is now a beloved daughter. Although it’s time to move on, she does so knowing that she always has a home to come back to and parents who love her – forever.
We’re so proud of our little fighter and can’t wait to see what the next season of her life brings for her. We’re thankful that she’s connected to us even as she steps out into her life as an independent adult.
Every year 27,000* adolescents age out of Foster Care with no one to walk with them through these critical years of life. It’s estimated that there are more than a 550,000* homeless adolescents in the United States. This is a forgotten population.
Every child deserves a forever family. Every young adult deserves to move on in life while still connected to caring, responsible adults who will love them, guide them and walk with them through the critical transition to adulthood.
We’re excited for what 2014 will bring, as we officially begin connecting children with families and families with resources.
For more information on how you can help, click here.