"If I didn't have these things, I don't know what my kids would eat out of, what I would cook out of. Now I have everything!" – A Hearts to Homes Recipient
Think about the very mundane - yet essential - things that you do and use every single day. From the sheets on your bed, the mirror you look into before you leave the house, the coffee table you put your cup on - or simply the cup you use to drink your morning java.
These simple things and items that many of us take for granted, are the very things that Hearts to Homes Furnishings www.HeartstoHomes.org, an organization from New York, is striving to provide for young adults who have aged out of foster care, and need a helping hand to get their lives started.
"Aging-out" occurs when a foster child, ages 18-21 years, leaves foster care. Although Governmental agencies provide some funds to assist with the aging out/first apartment process, these funds usually provide for the first month's rent, rental security deposits, and utility deposits.
Should there be anything left after that, the individual may be able to purchase a bed and dresser, leaving them with a very unfurnished apartment. With little excess income to furnish this empty apartment, a newly independent young adult can be left in a precarious and depressing situation. It is here, that Hearts to Homes found their 'home'.
Roughly 1,200 young adults age out of foster care in New York City every year, with somewhere between 900 and 1,000 moving into independent living. Unlike their contemporaries who do not hail from foster care, these young adults are without a lot of the support - financial or otherwise - for such a monumental adjustment.
Many find themselves in situations of instability and can experience homelessness and incarceration. Hearts to Homes complements other programs already in existence, such as job training, financial literacy education, and mentoring, providing furnishings that can alleviate the stress and hardship of being on one's own for the first time.
Hearts to Homes, originally a program of Cardinal McCloskey Community Services (CMCS), was created in March 2016. Under the management of CMCS, Hearts to Homes achieved an amazing level of success. Since its existence, all of the individuals who have been assisted by Hearts to Homes are still stable. None are homeless. None have been incarcerated.
Those who were in school, are still in school, and those who were employed, are still employed. Those who are mothers are still caring for their respective children. Realizing that this assistance could be provided to other child welfare organizations, Hearts to Homes became a separate, tax-exempt charity in September 2017
The organization is 100% volunteer-run and now supports three foster care agencies with plans for additional expansion. Its long-term goal of helping every young adult who ages out of foster care in the New York City area into independent living is one that requires help from donors. At a retail cost of approximately $3,100 to furnish a single apartment, Hearts to Homes has received discounts from retailers, bringing the charity's cost down to $2,700. Hearts to Homes only provides its recipients with new items, treating each young adult as if they were a friend who was having a housewarming thrown out for them!
Donations are needed - both monetary or from items listed on a registry that can be found on their website. The hope is that there will always be enough to support the next young adult and that they will never have to turn away a person who needs assistance when aging out of foster care.
"These are young adults who have faced obstacles their whole lives. If we can remove any obstacle and help them on the road to success, that's what we are going to do" – a Hearts to Home Donor