Former Foster Youth Reflects on Aging Out, Interning at The Foundling

While living in foster care I never imagined the uncertainty that would be knocking at my door at the age of 21.


I was without a place to call home, although throughout my youth I was promised secured housing. Immediately after my birthday, my foster care agency was informed that funding would not be provided and I had to leave my current foster home. Nine days later my things were packed and I was on my way to a friend’s house to sleep on his couch.


Although he promised I could stay, this wasn’t always the case some days. The days I was unable to rest on his couch, I would sleep on my sister and brother’s couch. They were like strangers because of the disconnect me being in foster care created. They weren’t always happy with me being there and I sensed that, therefore I made sure I was always out. With working two low-paying part-time jobs and being a full-time student, sleep wasn’t much of an option, neither was it an issue.


With the little help I was provided, I used it to assist me with the self-advocacy that led me to where I am today. Throughout the 15 months of couch-surfing homelessness, I would reach out to agencies in search of assistance with housing. Sadly I was rarely able to get any help or connect with anyone.


Finding The Foundling’s Transition to Adulthood Program


After meeting with a number of supportive housing programs, I was presented with the opportunity to interview with The New York Foundling for its Transition to Adulthood Support Program. Tiffany, a program coordinator, was intrigued and impressed by what came out my mouth when we met, and eager and willing to give me an opportunity at assisting me with obtaining my goals.


At the time there weren’t any vacancies in NYF’s program, but that didn’t stop me from calling every week to check in and stay relevant. I continued to search for rooms and places to live on my own, right when I found a room that turned out to be not what I expected. Tiffany gave me a call with the great news a week later. I think this had to be the best day of my life. I still haven’t stopped thanking her because she gave me an opportunity at peace of mind.


Being in the supportive housing program I was able to finally be at ease and understand myself. I was able to establish my credit, secure a legitimate job, enroll back into school, and finish my associate degree and a number of things that I was unable to do in the past.


On Interning with The Foundling


My social worker Sha-keema presented me with an internship opportunity at The New York Foundling that connected me with the phenomenal individuals in the Development department, along with our neighbors in the Communications department. Interning here at The Foundling has given me so much insight about the roles in which those on the outside tend to overlook.


Being guilty of this myself, all my life I knew the social workers and I thought those were the only ones who dedicated their time and were passionate about the mission. I was wrong. I was able to learn and understand how here in the Development department, Kathleen, Miri, Elena, Erin and Kirkley fight hard to obtain funding and donations to keep the various programs within The Foundling up and running. I also was able to witness firsthand the time, preparation and dedication they’ve put into proposals and attempts to gain funding.


From the first day they’ve welcomed me and have done nothing but support and assist me in learning the functions and purpose of this phenomenal department. Walking away from this internship, I’ve grown to realize every piece of the puzzle matters and that you can have an impact on individual lives whether its directly or indirectly.


The above essay was written by Ralph, who interned with our Development department in the summer of 2017.


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