We have a problem in our society. When a foster care child reaches age 18 they are dumped out of the system. Most of these young adults lack the skills to be self-reliant. By age 24, only 1 out of every 5 will be self-sustaining and one out of three will have experienced homeless. Only 2% will graduate from college. About 30,000 young adults “age out” of foster care every year on our country.
Eric and Kara Gilmore offer a solution. I met them last night. They have formed an organization called Immerse Arkansas (they’re located in Little Rock). They offer “transitional coaching” to help these young adults relationship skills so they can make it. They emphasize the importance of a relationship with God, with self, with community and with the world around them. I was impressed by their persons-helping-persons approach. “Good neighbors are much better than good projects and a whole lot cheaper.”
Transitions are always difficult. But without a helping hand to take that step from foster care to independent living, most will not make it. With help, they can become contributory members of society. Without help, they may become a drain on society. Immerse Arkansas could use your help. Visit their website to learn more. They’re operating on a shoestring budget and would be greatly encouraged by your financial support. You can donate financially by clicking on the link at the bottom of Eric’s blog.
A related book on helping young people make this transition is an old (but good) one: “Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People” by Stephen Glenn. But books don’t get the job done. They simply help people to be more effective in helping people.
While I was listening to Eric and Kara talk, I was reminded of the ancient command by God to
“walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart . . . and He executes justice for the orphan . . .” Deuteronomy 10:12-20
And in the New Testament, James reminds us
“pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
I’d love to see this organization get solidly established in Little Rock and then become a model to spread across the country. No one person can do it all, but every person can do something. Let’s help them build.
Addendum 11/23/12: Following their inaugural fundraising banquet, Keith released this video: