Connections Homes, a faith-based non-profit aimed at connecting older foster kids with families who can mentor them, recently announced it is launching the “Don’t Go Alone” campaign to raise awareness of the nearly 700 foster kids who age-out of Georgia’s foster care system annually but still need an adult in their life.

Foster children who age-out of the system between ages 18 and 21 usually lack adults who can be good role models in their lives as they mature into adulthood.

More than 40% of foster children who age-out of the system are homeless within 18 months, and 50% who age-out have substance abuse issues. Fifty percent of children born to women who aged-out of the foster care system also wind up in foster care.

“The Don’t Go Alone campaign is designed to emphasize that these kids can have stable adults in their lives to love and guide them to make smart decisions,” said Pam Parish, Founder and CEO of Connections Homes based in Lawrenceville. “Just having an adult take you to dinner and give you a little advice on what to wear to a job interview, how to save money or invite you to become a part of their life makes all the difference in the world to these kids.”

With the “Don’t Go Alone” campaign, Connections Homes will sell merchandise to raise funds and awareness of the need for Mentoring Families to engage with teens and young adults from the foster care system.

The campaign will include accepting donated gently-used career clothing so youth in transitional and independent living can use it for job interviews. It will provide case managers, foster care providers, and high school and college counselors with toolkits for at-risk youth to connect them with mentors.

The campaign will include the distribution of messenger bags with Don’t Go Alone branded items and information for foster kids age 16 and older in the foster care system, to foster kids in homeless shelters and at schools on the availability of mentors for the 700 children who age-out of Georgia foster homes and group homes annually.

Parish said that the Don’t Go Alone campaign also wants to remind the community to reach out and serve others – especially these older foster children – because “everybody deserves somebody” and not a single youth should ever have to go alone into adulthood.

“These kids just need someone to offer advice on how to navigate the world since they do not have reliable parents in their lives,” she said.

Tayla, a Connections Homes youth, was nervous about entering adulthood and overwhelmed with the big decisions that lay ahead. “Connections Homes has been the bridge between childhood and adulthood for me,” she said. “This program has connected me to an amazing family who consistently has my best interest. Growing up is hard, but growing alone is terrifying. Connections Homes helps to make an already scary journey a lot sounder.”

To volunteer with Connections Homes as a youth mentor or learn more about the Don’t Go Alone campaign, go to DontGoAlone.life

To speak with Pam Parish of Connections Homes or a foster youth about their experience with mentoring, contact Susan L. Meyers at Oak Grove Communications at slmeyers@comcast.net or 404-518-2271.

This guest column was submitted by Connection Homes.

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