“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.” — Mark Batterson
As a young adult, Emma* made the decision to move back home to Hawaii to have a fresh start. She had been living in Kansas after “aging out” of foster care for many years and was dealing with a lot of emotional and physical distress. Though a fresh start, the move also meant starting all over again.
She contacted a friend who offered a space for her to sleep. However, the apartment had no electricity and after being repeatedly robbed by strangers who frequented the apartment and sleeping in a closet, Emma longed for stable and safe housing. Thankfully, she was receiving help through Hale Kipa, a non-profit committed to helping youth and families. As a partner agency, Hale Kipa referred Emma to Catholic Charities Hawai‘i’s Horizons Transitional Housing Program. Within a couple of days, Emma was successfully placed in the program.
“I finally felt safe. Ryan, our house manager, made sure we maintained the program’s strict guidelines, and took advantage of every opportunity the program offered,” said Emma. “I started meeting with the therapist weekly and she helped me so much with my mental health.”
Horizons, located on Oahu, is an independent living program and outreach service available to young adults ages 18 to 25 who are transitioning out of mental health, child welfare, or juvenile justice systems. Residents may live in the home for up to 24 months where they learn independent living skills and take advantage of a matching savings plan.
“When I completed the program, I had saved $3,000, enough to finally move out and get my own place. It’s now been a year and I am doing very well thanks to the Horizons Program. When I first moved in, I felt a sense of relief that I finally had stable housing and a new sense of independence. Without Horizons, none of this would have been possible.”
Emma is 20 years old now, graduated from the program and still overcoming obstacles. But she is thankful to have formed bonds with the staff who have helped her by directing her to additional resources available. “I was no longer with the program, they had no obligation to help me. But they still treated me like family and they are someone I know I can count on for life.”
Since moving to her own place, Emma went back to school, graduated and earned her GED and graduated from the Kupu program with a degree in conservation. Next year, she will attend the pre-medicine program at John A. Burns School of Medicine to fulfill a lifelong goal of becoming a nurse. Additionally, she is taking care of her 16-year-old sister which has taught her even more discipline and responsibility.
“Without Horizons (Program) and the amazing (Catholic Charities Hawaii) staff, who knows where I would have ended up…thanks to their continued support and encouragement, I am in a great place in my life.”
Your donation might be one of most important gifts you make this holiday season. Make a donation today and help more young adults transition out of foster care with strong support to build positive connections as they grow into adulthood.
*Client name has been changed to protect her anonymity