Our Origin Story

Hi! I’m Christina Dronen. My husband, Eric Dronen and I are the founders of Finally Family Homes. If you’re looking for our origin story, why we started this charitable organization for foster youth, you’re at the right place!

Finally Family Homes is our vision for helping kids who are aging out of the foster care system without ever having found a family or home. These youth are at increased risk of homelessness, incarceration, and human trafficking.

We chose to establish it in Santa Clarita, CA because we wanted to be in LA County, the most challenging for foster youth in the nation. We think Santa Clarita the best location in the county to start helping house and mentor the foster kids who are aging out of foster care. It’s a safe community and there’s a community college nearby, which former foster youth can attend for free through the State.

The idea started in 2016…

Homelessness On The Rise

Our church at that time, Pacific Crossroads, spoke often about the homeless population in Los Angeles, which has gotten worse in recent years.

There are now nearly 60,000 homeless in LA, and about 75% are unsheltered.

Current and former foster kids make up a substantial portion of the homeless.

​There are now nearly 60,000 homeless in Los Angeles and the vast majority of those are unsheltered. #homeless #losangeles Click To Tweet

Having an interest tiny homes, I began to put together ideas to use them to help the homeless. At that time, I abandoned them as too overwhelming and unattainable.

​On a more personal level…

I had made a friend who was going through a lot of struggles, including an unplanned pregnancy, addiction issues, living on the edge of homelessness, and more.

Over the course of a few years, I helped and connected with her. I learned how complicated and difficult it is to survive, especially in Los Angeles. I saw the brokenness in her life and in the system and how detrimental it is, not having a safe, stable community or place to live.

An Adoption of Sorts

Around the same time as this we “adopted” a young adult from China. We connected with a young woman attending grad school here from China through our church.

She was looking to connect with a family locally. We invited her to join us for holidays, birthdays, and sometimes just to hang out and have dinner.

Now we consider her a part of our family.

A Mission Trip

​Summer of 2017 I went on the mission trip to Kyrgyzstan with my church.

Our primary work was to help the Kyrgyz church run a local kids camp. There, in Kyrgyzstan, less than 1% of the people are Christian. Helping hands are much needed to help serve the hundreds of kids who attend camp and to encourage the local church.

​​One of the ministries of this church is to care for the local orphans who have aged out of the system there.

In their “origin story” the pastor of the Kyrgyz church was moved to start a home for aged-out orphans after conversation with an orphan girl. Sincerely, she asked, “Is it true that when we leave here, the boys will go to jail and the girls will become prostitutes?”

​Sadly, he couldn’t say no. Orphans are put out on the street at 16 with no resources or help. The church there decided that wasn’t good enough. Thankfully they have a home that not only houses & feeds the youth, but connects them to mentors, education, and the local community.

Pin this!

Origin Story - How we came up with our model to serve foster youth by surrounding them with a caring community

A Caring Community Makes a Difference

​As I volunteered at the church, I worked alongside some of the girls being helped by their home, the Oak House. I saw the power of a caring community.

These young women were sweet, poised, and hopeful.

A caring community can make all the difference.#fostercare #agingout Click To Tweet

I saw in action something very close to what I thought to do here in the US. Truly, the personal investment in these youth resulted in hope and peace.

A Focus on Foster Care

Through our church’s Invisibles campaign we learned about the need in Los Angeles to help foster kids.

Foster youth are over-represented in homelessness, in human trafficking, and in prisons.

As soon as we learned about these outcomes, we revisited this idea of helping house homeless former foster kids. Eric was quickly on board. He values investing in family, helping others and teaching.

Our Unique Vision

​So here we are, just getting going. Our vision is to be long-term and personal, housing, mentoring, and loving kids who are aging out of foster care. Ultimately, it includes offering a place for them to come back to for support when needed, like a family.

We don’t believe in “too old” for a family. We believe every child needs to enter adulthood in a family and a home.

We want the ones who are "too old to adopt," the ones who fell through the cracks, the ones who never landed. We are inviting them to have a family and a home with us, finally. #fosteryouth #agingout Click To Tweet

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our origin story! If you’d like to know more, you read up more on the

Struggles Foster Youth Face

Vision of Finally Family Homes

How to Get Involved

And about Our Board of Directors

You can make a difference by sharing this post!

Comments

  1. What a great example of following God’s calling into this amazing ministry. I pray for you and the work as you move forward.

    1. Thank you so much Yvonne! You are an inspiration to me. 🙂

  2. What a blessing to be able to help those people in need. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Melissa! 🙂

  3. This is wonderful, Christina. You and Eric are doing a very necessary work and something dear to God’s heart. Prayers to you two and others who may come alongside you. Thank you for following God’s lead.

    1. Thanks Stephen! We appreciate the prayers. 🙂
      Merry Christmas!

  4. This sounds like a wonderful ministry. I pray the Lord will bless and encourage you all in His service, and I’m looking forward to reading more about it in future posts.

    1. Thanks Chloe! Prayers are much appreciate and needed.
      Merry Christmas!

  5. I really appreciated ready about your initiative and particularly was interested in your comment,Finally Family Homes is unlike most programs in that it is long-term and personal, not just a cold handout to float a child on to the next thing.​ We are looking forward to housing, mentoring, and loving kids who are aging out of foster care. We want the ones who are “too old too adopt,” the ones who fell through the cracks, the ones who never landed. We are inviting them to have a family and a home with us, finally.” What a wonderful mission statement and adventure. So many will be blessed through your endeavours. Have a blessed Christmas.

    1. Thank you! Have a blessed Christmas!
      We are looking for long-term relationships, but it’s up to them of course. 🙂

  6. What an awesome ministry you have! I pray many are touched by your work!

    1. Thank you Julie!
      Me too – we pray that all who come feel loved and included!

  7. I’m praying for God’s leading to begin a ministry in my community. I’d love to hear more about what you’ve begun in your place. God bless and Merry Christmas!

    1. That’s awesome, Nancy! We hope to replicate what we’re doing once we have it worked out & gaining momentum. Please keep following our blog – I’ll keep you updated.
      Merry Christmas!

  8. What a wonderful ministry! I am praying for you and all you do.

    1. Thank you Jessica! We need and appreciate prayers!!
      Merry Christmas!

  9. Wow! This is so great! I hope you will write more about this ministry. Do you have other volunteers working with you? How many kids will you be able to house? How will this be funded? May God bless you with abundant grace and provide for all your needs in the work He has called you to do.

    1. Thanks Anneliese!
      I definitely plan to continue writing more.
      We do have volunteers -yay! But will need more I’m sure. 🙂
      We will house 6 until our ministry can expand.
      We will be funded through grants, donors, and hope to set up an income stream as well.
      Thank you for your encouragement / prayers!!!

  10. Wow! What a wonderful ministry you have. My heart hurts for these kids! Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements! Followed you on Twitter and Pinterest. Thank you for what you are doing!!!

    1. Thank You Patsy! Mine too.. I appreciate your encouragement!

  11. This is wonderful! Thank you for starting this ministry, and for giving me some serious food for thought . . . which I’d like to find a way to turn into action.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jill! Please do get involved somehow – so much help is needed! Who knows… maybe you’ll have your own “origin story” soon 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *