Los Angeles County has the largest foster youth population in the country. Once foster youth age out of the system, they often lack the resources and support to start building a life for themselves. A Sense of Home, a nonprofit that furnishes the homes of former foster youth and provides them with resources and community, seeks to make that transition easier.

“A Sense of Home is a nonprofit organization that creates first-ever homes for foster youth aging out of the system,” said Georgie Smith, the CEO and founder of A Sense of Home. “Fifty percent of the homeless population were once in foster care. And if they achieve the miracle of securing a roof over their head, they can make it a home without family community support. There isn’t anyone to go to the habitat items to set up a home, for someone to have success in work or school or in life.”

A Sense of Home keeps items in a warehouse, which includes furniture, decor and other miscellaneous household needs. Items are donated by the community or brand partners.

Victoria Sanchez received help from A Sense of Home to make her first apartment into a real home. Sanchez shared her own experience of aging out of foster care and leaving transitional housing.

“I’ve been looking for my own place for about four years,” she said. “Going from place to place, looking for different roommates, couch surfing, moving around different places, but after four years, I finally have my own place.”

“There’s been so many experiences where foster youth haven’t had that experience of community or family to help them,” said Yolanda Elam, development and communications director at A Sense of Home. “Whether that is moving into their first place, moving into their first dorm, coming to their graduations, whatever it is, all those little life moments that we think about, not having that support. So community is so special.”

Volunteers with A Sense of Home bring items to apartments and stage them entirely.

“It’s so incredibly brave for someone to reach out for help,” Smith said. “That’s as vulnerable as it gets, I think, to say, come into my home. It’s a very private space, and it’s empty. And to receive the help of strangers. We make that a very safe space, where all the volunteers come in and operate from a very powerful place of love, and to reveal the humanity, to reveal that kindness, to reveal the best version of ourselves because, for foster youth, they haven’t experienced much of that.”

A Sense of Home has created more than 900 homes in eight years, impacting more than 2,000 young people in Southern California. To learn more about how you can help with volunteering and donations, visit here.

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