What happens when orphans grow up, never finding a family or permanence? When does a person go from being a victim of their horrific circumstances to being a responsible adult, capable of doing life and succeeding? What if no one helps them along the way - then what?
Here are a few stats* for you. Each year, 22,000 youth will "age out" of foster care at 18 years old after not finding a permanent family. By age 24, here is what their lives look like:
- over 40% will have experienced homelessness
- only 6% will earn a two or four year degree
- 58% will be parents, 1/2 of the young men and 2/3 of the young women
- less than half (48%) will be employed
- many will have been arrested, 39% of the young women and 81% of the young men
Here's a "Day in the Life" video from Immerse that gives a little insight into what life feels like for these youth.
This year, Immerse celebrated being in existence for 5 years serving former foster youth, as well as runaway and homeless young adults. It was amazing to hear the stories and see the faces and get another vision for all that God has done through this organization. Immerse offers transitional coaching, life skill training, education support and supportive housing. We work to connect the youth with the greater church in order to give them a broader base of support and relationships through mentoring and other involvement.
At the very end, the Immerse Youth that were in the crowd went to the stage to pray over the banquet attendees. My eyes filled with tears as one girl in particular prayed that we would all be able to walk with God and know him better. It was humbling, and I will be forever grateful for her heart and being able to see the transformation within her.
God is for each of us, and there is a special place in his heart for those who have been orphaned. It is amazing to see him work, and being able to serve on the board of Immerse AR has given me a front row seat to his provision and movement. It is an immense privilege that I don't take for granted.
If you feel ever want to know more - let me know! There are so many ways to give and be involved.
(*stats from Courtney, Dworsky, Lee and Raap, 2010)