A staggering 25% of the homeless population are youth who have exited foster care. At age 18 (or 21), foster youth are forced to fend for themselves without a a safety net having never been adopted. The odds are stacked against them. There are up to 35,000 young people, each year, exiting the system and faced with homelessness, or when they get an apartment are without the means to make it a home. Many have children of their own.
ASOH transforms the lives of at-risk foster youth who “age out” of the system by creating their first ever homes utilizing new, donated furniture and the loving-kindness of volunteers. Every weekend, volunteers gather to turn empty spaces into beautiful, inspiring homes within only 90 minutes. Forever changing these young peoples lives.
In 2014, a random act of kindness led to A Sense of Home. That random act of kindness has since been repeated by 5,000 volunteers in Los Angeles is now blossoming into a movement. In just over 3 years, 300 homes have been created for aged-out foster youth and a staff of former foster youth have been hired to lead the program. Founder, Georgie Smith, has been honored as a top 10 CNN Hero, 2018 People’s Voice Award nominee by the DVF Foundation, a Shero nominee at the 2017 Women’s Choice Awards and is featured in the exhibit and book “200 Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World”.
Resourceful former foster youth may secure Section 8 or other subsidized housing but with no support system to help them set up their first homes, their apartments are empty. They sleep, eat and study on bare floors. They store their belongings in plastic bags. Eliminating the financial impossibility of furnishing one’s home and creating an uncluttered, organized, and serene home environment has proven to significantly improve the productivity of an employee and student and increase crucial cognitive skills necessary for success.
Creating up to 3 homes per week, ASOH’s mission is to create a physical home that is the embodiment of the dreams and unique personality of each youth served to transform their experience of scarcity to one of comfort and care. The ASOH model is led by aged-out foster youth who are recipients of the program and serves as “the village” showing up for foster youth in our society. Research shows that the state of one’s “home” affects one’s physical health, cognitive development, and social/ emotional well-being and impacts an individual’s view of themselves and their place in the world. By creating a physical home that embodies the personal goals and aspirations of each youth, participants find meaning in their space and reimagine their potential for achievement, happiness and stability. For more research and facts click here.
ASOH discovered a crisis not being addressed but also just how much people care. Once individuals learn of the situation of foster youth existing the system they want to be there for them. We have witnessed ( alongside of the youth we serve) the best of humanity showing up. We can all be great when we greatly help others. Imagine what the world would look like if each of us volunteered just one hour a week and gave what we have too much of — to those who might benefit not just from the stuff but the loving act of kindness.
The ASOH model will soon operate in many major cities.