While enduring all my adversities in foster care, I used school as an outlet to distract me from my displaced life. I graduated from high school and was accepted into Manhattanville College, located in Purchase, NY. A lot of young adults go to college to party, meet new people and to plan for a career. I went to college to run away from my problems. I went to college to have a safe and stable placement to call my own. Once I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Manhatanville College, it was time for me to transition to adulthood in my own apartment.
Moving into my apartment. I recall being concerned about a number of things. I wondered, how am I going to pay my rent monthly? How am I going to purchase furniture for my apartment? How am I going to cook without pots, cookware and kitchen utensils? Most young adults have house warming parties and their families and friends come together and buy them household items. I was a young adult who did not have any family or friends to help support me with this huge life altering transition.
When I moved into my apartment I did not invite anyone over because I felt uncomfortable. I did not have a bed, living room furniture and other essential items one needs to live comfortably. My apartment was empty!!! Hearts to Homes changed my life. This unique and amazing program provided me with everything I needed for my apartment, some of which I still use today. Hearts to Homes purchased my first queen-sized bed, provided me with pots, glassware and a comforter set with pillows, and a microwave. I remember inviting my friends and my family to my home for the first time and they were so impressed with my apartment. I felt confident and comfortable, allowing my family and friends to spend time and make memories with me in my new home.
As a case planner, I referred nine youth to the Hearts to Homes Program. I remembered how excited the adolescents and young adults were on my caseload when they were able to fill out their Hearts to Homes referral form. The young adults were so happy to choose the furniture and household items they wanted for their apartment. The young adults and adolescents in foster care do not have the opportunity to make decisions for their life. Hearts to Homes program provides the opportunity for young adults to choose what they want in their own apartments.
I remembered how excited the young adults were to know their items were mailed to the agency. Some of our young adults were nearly in tears when I told them I was delivering their items to their NYCHA apartment. As I helped the young adults bring all their items into their NYCHA apartment, I would assist the youth with unpacking their items such as, helping the young adults place their glass cups, plates, pots, and kitchen utensils in their kitchen cabinets. I would help the young adult with setting up their shower curtain in their bathroom. I would help the young adults with assembling their lamps for their living room, etc. As a case planner we go through so many different monuments with our young adults for years. Over time, our young adults build trust and relationships with their case planner. So, who better than a case planner to help transition our young adults into their apartments with their Hearts to Homes’ items?
In the future, I hope Hearts to Homes can expand the program to youth in foster care who do not have high school diplomas or a GED Certificate. Most of our youth in foster care do not have high school diplomas, GED Certificates or college degrees. Our young adults without degrees need this program as well.
I would like to conclude by saying, thank you to the Hearts to Homes program for supporting me and all the adolescents and young adults I have referred to the Hearts to Home program through Catholic Guardian Services. I am so grateful and appreciative and hope Hearts to Homes program continues to help more young adults with backgrounds that mirrors mine as they transition into adulthood and move into their own apartments. With all the trauma our young adults experienced, they deserve to have a comfortable, safe place to call their own. ACS and contracted foster care agencies assist young adults with obtaining their own apartments, but this amazing program extends their Hearts to allow our young adults to create a home. Thank You, and have a wonderful evening.