A SENSE OF HOME (ASOH) began very organically. From a random act of kindness into a community movement. A young man who had just aged out of the foster-care system asked me for help with his first-ever permanent living space. In responding to his request and in turning his barren, doleful space into a functioning home, I came to understand that he had never felt at home – anywhere – in his entire life. And that that very fundamental feeling I know so well – the feeling of home that had anchored and guided me – was something he was bereft of. This caused him to feel adrift in the world; without a sense of home, we do not have a sense of belonging in the world; without it, we do not have a foundation from which we can build a future that reflects our hopes and dreams.
ASOH began as a call to action to the community. While the fundamental acts of ASOH are about gathering donated furniture, so that volunteers from the community can come together to create homes for aged out foster youth at its core, it is about love. It is an opportunity for community members to share their hearts, take a seat at the table with aged out foster youth in implementing a solution, together. It is an opportunity to listen, have hard conversations, share in joy, share in pain, and come together, to build a healthier community.
The ASOH model is “the village” showing up for foster youth in our society. The process reveals the best of humanity to the youth who have overcome against all odds. The volunteers in their acts of love and kindness display to the youth what community is and how they can build it. In turn, the youth educate and inspire the community.
Dr Shira Gabriel and her team at SUNY, University at Buffalo — recently developed an instrument to measure how experiences of “collective assembly “affect us. They found these experiences contribute to a life filled with “a sense of meaning, increased positive affect, an increased sense of social connection and a decrease sense of loneliness — all essential components of a healthy, happy life. Collective assembly is more than just people coming together … instead it is an opportunity to feel connected to something bigger than oneself; it is an opportunity to feel joy, social connection, meaning and peace. Collective assembly has long been a part of the human experience and current work begins to quantify its importance and psychological benefits. “ We are thrilled to be a part of the first groundbreaking study in this new area of research.
We hope that ASOH serves as an example of what we can create together in order to bridge the divide and build healthier communities while, in the process, becoming more empathetic and educated on the plight of others around us.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about ASOH and for joining us on this journey. We appreciate that we go farther together and we wouldn’t be here without you.
With gratitude and warm well wishes,