Did you know that Finally Family Homes is run 100% by volunteers? In fact, some of our volunteers are also some of our biggest donors. It’s somewhat necessary as we are a “start-up” non-profit.
What We Are Fighting For
Making the transition to adulthood is a struggle that is intensified for young people who have spent some or all of their childhood in foster care.
When aging out, many of them lack stable connections and are also more likely to have faced a host of disruptive and traumatic experiences including school instability, mental health issues, and homelessness.
Aging Out is Not “The End”
Standing In The Gap – Finally Family Homes Offers Hope And Empowerment To Aging-out Foster Youth
At Finally Family Homes, we give a sense of stability and direction to aging-out foster youth on the path to independence. We are devoted to generating relationships that will empower, inspire, and propel the youth to success.
- Each year, about 23,000 young people “age out” of foster care because they reach the age that a State has determined they will no longer support them.
- 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
- 70% of the kids involved in sex trafficking in LA County came from foster care
Apart from providing basic physiological needs like food and housing, we also offer social and emotional support as well as educational guidance to aging-out foster youth.
Finally Family Homes uses a holistic approach to give foster youth the support they need to transition to a successful independent adulthood.By providing aging out teenagers a family-centered transitional home while we help them build their own tiny home, we are providing a safety net to mitigate the risks of homelessness and human trafficking of former foster youth.
Meet the Founders
Eric & Christina Dronen moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago. They were inspired to start Finally Family Homes through the initiatives at their church in Los Angeles. Having become educated on the significantly increased risks for foster kids who age out without family, they felt moved to action.
Finally Family Homes is that move to give justice, hope, and a future to aged out foster kids. Read more about our “origin story” here.
Meet the Board of Directors
Eric Dronen was inspired to start Finally Family Homes through the initiatives through his church in Los Angeles. Eric works as a Senior SQL Server Database Developer and is the
For fun Eric likes to work out and spend time with family. He especially likes to get out into nature – but is more into the mountains than the ocean.
When Eric turned 18 he was living with his parents. “I was working at Taco Bell, National Karate and Dronen’s Heating and A/C. I just started going to a community college.” He says his parents were his biggest supporters during that time.
Eric is excited for the work of Finally Family Homes because “it is a God-sized vision. God has to step in for things to continue. We can do our best and aim for the stars, but God is the one who will make it have an impact.”
Christina Dronen is a parent to 3 kids and the author of several parenting books. She is a retired Systems Analyst & Stand Up Comedian, although her humor has been known to crop up from time to time. She’s also the author behind most of the blog posts here on the website.
Christina helped form Finally Family Homes and leads the way as we continue to work towards meeting the goals of our organization. She worked as a software developer then transitioned into systems analysis. She also has a degree in Spanish and has translated abroad and at home on several occasions.
When Christian turned 18, she was living at home finishing her senior year of high school and getting ready for college.
“I was still applying and didn’t know where I was going to go yet. I was also very involved in track (400 m dash / relay mostly) and working some at a buffet making $4.25/hr.”
She first started engaging with aged-out foster youth through a Young Lives group for foster girls who were pregnant or had babies and lived at a group home.
She connected with aged out orphans on a mission trip to Kyrgyzstan. “I got to see and know the difference that having a loving Christian community and an everlasting Hope in a Father who is always near had on orphan girls in Kyrgyzstan. I knew that this model could have the same impact here.”
Christian loves getting out on hikes in nature – which Santa Clarita provides! She also enjoys camping, traveling, yoga, and a good sci fi movie.
See her author page Gentle Christian Parenting to learn more.
Eugenie Ooi is a CPA and Senior Manager at Armanino. She has a degree in Accounting from Georgia State. Eugenie is a talented dancer and big time foodie. She loves spending time with friends, going to the beach, and trying out new restaurants.
Eugenie first learned about the reality aging out foster youth face when she was doing mission work in Kyrgyzstan. Then she learned more through the Invisibles campaign from her church.
When Eugenie turned 18 she says, “I have to say it was easy for me. I lived with my parents until I went to college. Then I got an apartment with my brother and later with some friends. I had an in-State scholarship for my college and life was easy and fun there. Also, I had a couple of part-time jobs while going to school. I had to work to pay rent.”
She’s excited about Finally Family Homes because she realizes that aging out of the foster care system without adequate supports must be hard. “Society can be brutal and cruel and I hope that my little contribution can help meet the needs of aging out foster youth.”
Jeffrey Phillip Forrest
Jeffrey Forrest serves as Vice-President of Economic and Workforce Development at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. In his role, Jeffrey oversees the Economic Development Division of the college, which offers services to support education, job training and economic mobility for minorities, women, Veterans, and dislocated workers..
Making a Difference:
Jeffrey came from a challenging background but used education to avoid the pitfalls of growing up in poverty. Today, he pays it forward by mentoring students from all backgrounds who seek guidance on making positive life choices. Recently, he was asked to be the motivational coach for his colleges football team. In this role, he seeks to inspire, encourage and empower young men to be persistent in the pursuit of their goals.
Jeffrey believes that providing access to a quality education is critical to creating strong communities, and key to the long-term growth of the nation’s economy. He has a Bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and an MBA from Lindenwood University. He also has graduate training in finance from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. He resides in Santa Clarita, CA and enjoys golf, fishing and hiking.
Marie grew up in a small town in Washington state and graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Business Administration and Communications. After 10 years of working in corporate advertising in Los Angeles, she embarked on a career change in 2012 and received her Masters in Intercultural Studies/International Development at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Marie lives in Idaho with her husband and two kids. She has served on the Southeast Asia Partnership Board of Directors for years. Marie brings a wealth of non-profit ministry experience to the Finally Family Homes board
She found out about the struggle of foster youth aging out through the Invisibles initiative at Pacific Crossroads Church. “Our congregation (along with myself), were introduced to the challenges within the LA foster care system, including children who could no longer utilize the county’s resources.”
When Marie turned 18 she had just graduated high school and continued living at home with her parents. She spent her summer waiting tables at a local restaurant to pay for college.
Marie is excited to be a supporter of Finally Family Homes because “The organization will help so many young adults that the system no longer supports. And that support will enable them to have successful adult lives – it is not a temporary handout, but building up young adults for an independent life.
To be part of something that can have such a long-term impact is so exciting!”
We all at Finally Family Homes share a passion for preventing homelessness and human trafficking of the foster youth who are aging out of the system. Learn how can get involved or donate today! And join our newsletter to hear the latest on how we are serving former foster youth.