Hearts to Homes’ Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Nicole Grogan has been elected President of the board, Mary Leitner is the Vice President, and Cathy Murphy steps into the role as Treasurer. Gloria Dios continues her role as board secretary. Mary Theresa McCombe, co-founder of Hearts to Homes, has stepped down as board President, but will continue as Executive Director of the organization.
Hearts to Homes also began its new fiscal year by welcoming six new members to the board and saying good-bye and thank you to four outgoing board members, three of whom have been with us since Hearts to Homes was founded!
Greg Spero, our outgoing board treasurer, was an original member of our board. Greg was instrumental in the development of all the critical policies and procedures, as well as the development of our accounting and donor processing systems. His guidance in these areas allowed H2H to grow from a good idea into an organization with a powerful mission. We are deeply indebted to Greg and thrilled to announce that he will continue on as a volunteer at H2H.
Diane Vezza, also an original member of our board, was the driving force behind our special events. Those in the know recognize Diane’s famous baked goods that all guests received at the end of these events. After serving as our board secretary for years, Diane took on a major responsibility in connecting our parenting youth to furnishing services that they might need for their children. We are thrilled that Diane will stay on as an H2H volunteer, helping to organize our special events and continuing to act as the liaison for our parenting youth.
Artie Lange, the final original member of the board, brought his business acumen to Hearts to Homes when we were just a good idea in need of some professional advice. Always a sponsor of our special events, Artie could marshal the support of his professional contacts to step up and sponsor alongside of him. As we grew, we knew that we could count on Artie for his thoughtful opinions on strategy.
Cookie Humphrey introduced Hearts to Homes to the readers of Compulsive Magazine twice over the past few years. With lived experience in foster care, Cookie understood the needs of the young adults we served and helped to guide board decision. Cookie helped us make connections to others in philanthropy, an important asset for any non-profit organization.
Please join us in welcoming new board members Ali Heriyanto, Kevin Kennedy, Cathy Murphy, Maureen Noonan, Dana Solomon, and John Vezza. With skills in areas that are critical to a volunteer-led charity like Hearts to Homes, these six professionals will bring new and important perspectives to our growing organization:
Ali Heriyanto is an innovator in women’s lifestyle tech blogs and the VP of Product and Tech Support at the Corcoran Group. She is a supporter of the missions of several non-profit organizations.
Kevin Kennedy is a consultant in the supply chain and logistics industry with prior experience at Tracer Imaging and Sterling National Bank. Like several of our current board members, Kevin came to his term on the Board of Directors following several years of dedicated service on our Associates Board.
Cathy Murphy takes the reins as our new board treasurer. She is a long-time supporter of Hearts to Homes and is currently the executive VP of NY operations for Blue Raven Solutions.
Maureen Noonan is a dedicated educator with a 32-year career in Catholic education. She is an innovator and a visionary in the areas of advancement and organizational growth.
Dana Solomon is an experienced human resources professional with knowledge of the full employee lifecycle. Her advice will be critical as Hearts to Homes continues to move from small start-up to a recognized name in the world of support for youth aging out.
John Vezza has been connected to Hearts to Homes since its earliest days. John is a real estate investor, having retired from running the family business, Astor Place Hairstylists. John’s contributions have included both the financial and logistical, as he has brought essential deliveries of furnishings, baby items, and even holiday food baskets to many of our H2H young adults.
Your donations to Hearts to Homes may reach farther than you realize!
Meet Sara Scott, a former foster care youth who had just graduated from college in Westchester County. Sara applied and was accepted into Seton Hall University’s 14-month accelerated nursing program in Nutley, New Jersey. She remembers feeling both excited and terrified – excited to continue her education and pursue a future career, but terrified because there was no housing available for the program.
“How could I afford to buy all the necessities needed to furnish an apartment for the first time?” Sarah recalls.
After reaching out to different foster agencies for help, she was referred to Hearts to Homes for assistance.
Hearts to Homes’ assistance generally happens in the geographical area that constitutes New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. However, like Sara, some individuals aging out of foster care want to attend college or continuing education programs out of state where they need to find their own housing. Some youth may decide to stay out of state after finishing their degree, and others may find a job in a different state or relocate to live near extended family.
Our mission at Hearts to Homes is to help foster youth as they transition into independent life by providing furnishing support, so sometimes we can provide that support outside of our normal area of operations. If an individual is associated with a foster agency we work with, our support follows them. So far, we’ve provided virtual housewarmings for recipients in New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, Louisiana, and upstate New York!
Sara remembers being surprised that she was able to receive furnishing assistance in New Jersey. “I wasn’t quite sure how I would pick up big items but [Mary Theresa] explained that the items would be delivered to me either by the store directly or a volunteer. I just couldn’t believe it… the fact that they were willing to drive an hour to deliver things to me in another state was unbelievable.”
She goes on to relay the impact of this support, made possible by your donations.
“For most of my time in foster care I received used items. Getting new things wasn’t normal for me. I can’t explain how good it felt to move into my apartment and have all new things. I was starting an intensive nursing program, and I didn’t have to worry about furnishing my apartment and where I would get the money to pay for all of these items. Hearts to Homes was a life saver.”
Sara has since graduated from her nursing program and moved into her second apartment. She says all the items she received from Hearts to Homes made the trip. “Without them, I certainly wouldn’t have a fully furnished apartment.”
In cases like Sara’s, Hearts to Homes ensures that former foster youth in need are cared for and supported. The process and vendors may be slightly different when fulfilling furnishing needs elsewhere in the country, but the same magic is possible with donations from supporters like you!
Hearts to Homes thanks CBS News for covering our story and highlighting the impact our services make! Happy National Foster Care Month!
May is National Foster Care Month, and we’re building futures, one apartment at a time.
National Foster Care Month is an opportunity for us to celebrate foster youth and the people who provide them with love and support. Please join Hearts to Homes as we launch our May 2023 challenge to raise $30,000 to furnish 12-15 new homes – and build futures, one apartment at a time.
Every dollar donated will help provide the essentials to furnish a first apartment and support a young adult leaving foster care. Whether your donation helps purchase pots and pans, a comforter, a shower curtain or a coffee table – you will be helping create a stable, healthy home.
When we help provide the essentials to furnish a first apartment for these young adults, we help them create a space of their own – and improve the odds that they remain in their apartments, in school or employed, and parenting their children.
Join us in helping young adults aging out of foster care make a fresh start. We have the opportunity to receive a $15,000 match when we raise the first $15,000 in GoFundMe donations! Visit our GoFundMe link to make a donation today https://gofund.me/cb092217
The need for our services is greater than ever – hundreds of young adults aged 18-21 years of age will transition out of foster care in the NYC area this year (our geographic coverage includes Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Nassau, and Suffolk). Most leave foster care with few possessions and no family to help them make this transition.
You can also find us on Venmo @Hearts_to_Homes and make your donation there!
Thank you for your interest and support!
Hearts to Homes Announces a Major Milestone!
We are pleased to announce that Hearts to Homes has provided over $1 million dollars in furnishing assistance to over 450 young adults who have aged out of foster care in New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. The average cost to furnish an apartment and provide essential home furnishings for a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom is $2,400. Hearts to Homes’ support has followed young New Yorkers, who have chosen to relocate, to Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well as several counties in upstate New York.
Begun as a program of Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, Hearts to Homes provided furnishings for six young adults in 2016. By November 2017, Hearts to Homes had separately incorporated to facilitate expansion of our services to qualified youth at additional foster care agencies.
Since then, Hearts to Homes has expanded our referral program from a single agency to twenty-six referring partners – all of which are either foster care agencies or organizations whose missions are to support foster youth. Today, Hearts to Homes continues to expand services and referral criteria so that more and more young adults in need will be able to avail themselves of this critical support. In 2023, Hearts to Homes expects to furnish 140 apartments for young adults in need.
Our mission is focused on assisting youth at a critical moment in their lives – when they move from foster care to their first, independent apartment. Statistics show that Hearts to Homes’ support is one of the factors that reduces the chance of homelessness, incarceration or inter-generational foster care, instead resulting in more young people remaining stable in their first homes.
Hearts to Homes is indebted to the many donors who have made this possible and to our volunteers and referring partners who work with us each week to make a difference in the lives of these young people!
Better When We’re Together
Sometimes, Hearts to Homes supports more than just an individual aging out of foster care. One-third of young adults are pregnant or parenting when they are referred to us for assistance.
Our goal is to help these families stay together – we have even enabled a family reunification – by supplying everything needed for a safe and complete home. In fact, with your help, we’re supporting more families each year – 19 families in 2020, 26 in 2021, and 29 families in 2022.
Overall, that means that your support has helped to furnish the homes of over 145 infants, toddlers and young children, making their home a safer, more comfortable place to grow and thrive!
Currently in 2023, 83% of our parents are stable and living with their children. In one study, only about half of children born to a mother in foster care remained out of foster care by age two. Does providing a safe and comfortably furnished home help to keep these young parents more stable? We would certainly like to think so. The cost of caring for a child in foster care has a terrible emotional cost and can average $50,000 per year.
Through providing furnishing and living necessities for our recipients, at an average cost of $2,310 per family, we are part of a system of support that promotes stability. With your help, Hearts to Homes aims to keep families together and end the cycle of foster care. Because we all know, we are better when we are together.
2022 Brought Hearts to Homes Assistance to More Young People in Need than Ever!
123 apartments furnished over 365 days! That’s a 25% increase over the prior year.
Assistance provided to youth aged 18 to 26. The average age of our young adults is 21 years old.
70% of apartments furnished were in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. We also provided furnishings to youth in Queens, Staten Island, Westchester and, for the first time, Nassau, Suffolk, Putnam and Rockland Counties. We also furnished apartments for NYC youth who relocated to Stamford, New Orleans and Houston.
We provided furnishings to young women who were leaving foster care while pregnant or parenting. The homes of 35 infants, toddler and young children were made more comfortable and safer with our furnishing assistance. In many cases, Good + Foundation or Bundles of Joy provided several items needed for these children. Synergistic partnerships are so important and beneficial! We appreciate the support these organizations provide.
In addition to expanding our services to more geographic regions, we expanded services to those who have two parts of their GED completed and who plan on completing that educational credential. We also can now accept referrals of youth who have a trade certificate, even if they do not have a high school diploma/GED. We assisted 6 youth who aged out after graduating college and 24 young adults who are currently college students. Education and job skills are vital steppingstones to success!
Over 50% of those referred to us desire some type of mentoring relationship. Hearts to Homes can now connect these young adults to this vital resource.
Hearts to Homes provided a meal basket to 43 individuals who indicated that they needed this type of assistance during the year-end holidays.
Hearts to Homes is pleased to announce a partnership with CASA-NYC
Hearts to Homes is pleased to announce a partnership with CASA-NYC. Family court judges assign CASA-NYC volunteers to the most complex cases for young people involved in the NYC child welfare system. These volunteers work diligently to provide individualized attention to each child, ensuring their needs are protected and rights addressed while helping them navigate the maze of the NYC foster care system. They work to ensure that children in foster care are moved quickly into safe, stable, nurturing, and permanent homes – with their families of origin whenever possible. We welcome CASA-NYC as the 27th referring partner in our Hearts to Homes family.
Meet our New Board Members!
Hearts to Homes is pleased to welcome, and introduce to our donors, four new members of our Board of Directors. Each of these individuals brings a commitment to philanthropy and to our mission to help foster youth make a smoother transition from foster care to independence. We look forward to working with them as we continue our work in New York City, Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Putnam counties.
Gloria Dios is a Financial Advisor and lives between Southampton and NYC. She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied Film & TV and minored in business. After graduation, she worked as a casting producer and editor for various reality TV shows. Growing up the daughter of two financial advisors, she developed a passion for educating and helping others with financial literacy which led to her career change. She is on the Southampton Village Business Revitalization committee and a board member for Heart of the Hamptons, a food pantry and general assistance nonprofit in Southampton.
Jan Jason joined the Hearts to Homes board after fifteen years at the Rockland County Department of Social Services where she served as Coordinator of Operations, Analysis and Planning. Her experience consisted of collaborating with management and supervisory staff on program administration including children and family services, child welfare, and adult services, as well as benefits programs. In her previous position as assistant to the Commissioner of Social Services, she served as liaison with government agencies, community organizations, and county departments to increase collaborative efforts and maximize resources to benefit clients. Jan retired in 2017 and since then has volunteered as a board member of Child Care Resources of Rockland, as a classroom aide in the East Ramapo, NY Early Childhood Learning Center, with the Soup Angels Food Program in Nyack, NY, and as a Surrogate Decision-Making Committee Member with the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.
Mary is a graduate of Fordham University and Iona University and a long-time Westchester resident who currently lives in Mamaroneck. She spent her career in financial services and retired from UBS after 25 years. Supporting local organizations is important to Mary, her husband John, and their two adult children. Mary served on the board of the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester for over ten years, and recently as board secretary. The opportunity to empower young adults attracted Mary to Hearts to Homes.
Allison Reich is an advertising professional working as a Group Copy Supervisor at a Havas Group agency. She is a graduate of Lafayette College where she studied English and Studio Art. Her lifelong passion for contributing to her community and creating a better world through enacting change has led to volunteer work with local and national nonprofit organizations focused on the arts, health, and social causes. Allison previously served on the Junior Committee of Hearts to Homes, and she is thrilled to continue supporting young adults starting their lives outside of the foster care system as a member of the Board of Directors.
News Report Documents the Impact of Your Support!
On Wednesday, October 12, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt featured the story of Christina Abraham, a young woman who received Hearts to Homes furnishing support this past August. Watch the report to learn more about the impact your donation makes!
Part 1 and Part 2 of NBC Nightly News Films give a more in-depth look into the process of aging out and Hearts to Homes’ program for assistance.