Get to Know Finally Family Homes
Get to Know Finally Family Homes
Session Objectives: The goal of this session is to help you better understand who Finally Family Homes is and what we are all about. We will touch on our history, beliefs, values, programs, and opportunities to get involved.
Or Read Below for a Transcript of the Training
Did you know that every year more than 20,000 young adults exit the foster care system without a place to call home? Either they never got reunited with family or didn’t get adopted. Struggling on their own, many drop out of college and become at risk of human trafficking and homelessness.
At Finally Family Homes, we partner with these promising young adults, to act as a bridge from their experiences to opportunities that will prepare them for lasting success in life.
We achieve this mission by walking alongside our young adults:
- To meet their basic need for food, housing, and clothing
- To connect them with a caring community
- To support their advancement in life skills and academics
- To build an economic foundation for self-sufficiency
Finally Family Homes believes that investing in these promising young adults will sever the generational cycle of brokenness. Helping them now will promote healthier children and more resilient communities for years to come.
Our Founding Story – From Christina Dronen
As the founder, I’d like to share with you what inspired me to start Finally Family Homes.
In 2016 our family was attending a church that cared about making an impact on our Los Angeles community. They searched for the city’s most in need and mobilized the congregation to learn and act. Working towards helping the homeless was no surprise to us- it’s an obvious problem in Los Angeles. But we were surprised to learn that LA County is home to the largest foster care system in the nation.
And we were shocked to learn that so many foster youth are put out on the street at 18, and become targets of human traffickers.
I started volunteering with transition-aged youth who were in particularly hard circumstances. But to be honest, they had huge walls up and I wondered if I could even connect with them. I suspected that maybe the institutional system – whose employees turned over about every 6 months left these kids feeling uncared for and unwilling to try to connect. I wondered if having a more personal, caring solution would make a more profound impact on them.
Around that time, my church announced that they would be sending some members to Kyrgyzstan to help a small church there that needed some helping hands to run their summer camp for kids. I just felt like I should go. So I did. When I got there I was surprised to learn this small church ran a few other powerful ministries including a home for girls who aged out of the orphanages at 16.
Across the world – in a small, struggling formerly communist country, the results were the same for them as they are for our kids here in America. After leaving the system they were more likely to experience homelessness, human trafficking, and prison.
But the young adults in Kyrgyzstan were so different than the ones I met here. The young women in Kyrgyzstan were filled with hope, working towards their futures, volunteering in the church – kind, respectful, and ready to connect. They were a part of the church community being cared for and welcomed like family – and it made all the difference.
Seeing my suspicions confirmed- that a more caring and connected approach mattered so profoundly. I came back and immediately started Finally Family Homes in 2017 to be a more compassionate, empowering, and connected approach to helping young adults transition out of foster care.
Our aim is to build safe and lasting connections while also helping these young adults move towards successful independence. Throughout LA County and especially in Santa Clarita, there is an affordable housing crisis. I know someone who has been waiting 8 years to get into affordable housing. So we decided to create our own – and give the ownership to our young adults. We help them to build their own tiny homes on wheels! It’s a great way to build confidence and valuable job skills in construction.
Our Faith Connection
Because our most obvious efforts are working towards caring for physical needs, it may not be obvious right away that we are a faith-based organization. But there is always an element of faith in doing justice work. As Tim Keller put it in Generous Justice, “The pursuit of justice in society is never morally neutral, but is always based on understandings that are essentially religious in nature.”In other words, our work towards justice is driven and defined by our underlying beliefs. And our underlying beliefs guide our approach to justice. Finally Family Homes is founded on and driven by faith in Jesus and his particular care for orphans.
Here’s what we believe at Finally Family Homes
All people are created in the image of God and have inherent dignity and worth.
We believe that everyone: including our leaders, our staff, our volunteers, our supporters, and the young adults we serve are equal in inherent worth and dignity.
We live in an unjust and broken world in need of healing.
We believe wonderful people are sometimes recipients of evil and cruel people are sometimes recipients of good.
- We believe that a person’s current circumstances often do not reflect justice.
- We believe that who you are is not what happened to you. We do not judge a person by their circumstances.
We believe that no one is perfect and do not expect perfection from others.
There is only one true Judge, and His justice calls us to care for the vulnerable.
We believe it is not our place to judge others, but to encourage them towards righteousness.
We believe working towards righteousness means caring for the vulnerable and
We believe forgiveness is free, but trust is earned. The vulnerable have had their trust betrayed and we need to earn their trust and have grace for their journey.
Give without expectation.
We give to those who are in need because they are in need and their needs matter.
We do not require participants to adhere to a particular set of beliefs or practices in order to receive services.
No good thing should be held back.
The gospel is the good news that has the power to heal and transform. It is a particularly beautiful offering to those who have no parents to call on in times of need.
Christianity is a kingdom of adoption. All who choose to follow Christ enter into God’s family through adoption.
While we don’t require participation in faith-based activities, we do openly invite everyone to opportunities to hear that there is a Father in Heaven who knows, loves, and wants to be a Father to them.
And we respect the right of anyone who says no to our invitation without consequence to the way we treat them.
How Our Beliefs Shape Our Values
Our beliefs shape our values and ultimately our attitudes and actions. The following values govern the way we behave, communicate, and interact with others.
Humility – We value approaching each other with humility, honoring them as valuable and worthy of our time, respect, and effort. We believe in being slow to speak and quick to listen.
Showing Up – We believe there is value in being present.
As Dr. Dan Siegel points out, “One of the very best scientific predictors for how any child turns out—in terms of happiness, academic success, leadership skills, and meaningful relationships—is whether at least one adult in their life has consistently shown up for them.”
In a world where we are all stretched thin and pulled in various directions – the best way to make an impact starts with showing up.
Partnership – We believe progress is best pursued in community, that those who are in need of care benefit most by walking alongside someone who has something to give.
Sustainability – Instead of band-aids, we implement strategies and approaches that have a lasting impact. Though we’ll hand out band-aids when needed, too!
Healthy Boundaries – We believe that defining and maintaining healthy boundaries are key components to all healthy relationships.
Lead By Example – We hold our leaders to a higher standard than those they serve.
A Personal Touch – We prioritize personalization, even if it requires extra work. We make the extra effort to connect with each person, honoring their uniqueness and helping them to feel seen and valued as individuals.
At Finally Family Homes we strive to meet more than one goal through each of our programs.
Our Family Care program works to show our young adults that they are valued members of our family community. We invite them to have dinner together, give gifts, and celebrate their birthdays and accomplishments together. We also help provide for basic needs and essentials like food and clothing.
Life Launch is our club to educate, connect, and equip aging-out foster youth with life skills to empower success in the future. We partner with high schools and colleges to provide educational workshops from inspiring professionals.
Our Host Homes program is a proven cost-effective, successful intervention for youth homelessness. We recruit, screen, and train local families who wish to provide an open room and compassionate care to a young adult in need. Struggling with housing is one of the top reasons why foster youth drop out of college. Having a safe and caring place to stay gives them a launching pad toward longer-term success.
Tiny House Ownership is our flagship program to work alongside our young adults to build their own tiny homes on wheels. They invest their time and money, gaining valuable job skills in construction and personal equity.
The Alumni Support program is currently in development and will be available to our program graduates. We will offer an open door to come back to celebrate the holidays, have someone to talk to, and a place to call in hard times – just like any young adult would have with their family. Permanency and sustainability are important to us. Those who don’t have a family will always have a family with us.
This chart summarizes how our mission, goals, and programs fit together.
Finally Family Homes is a volunteer-driven organization. Without our amazing volunteers, we are not able to accomplish this important work of caring for aging-out foster youth.
Each of our programs needs volunteers to help us succeed. Beyond the programs, there are other ways to serve behind the scenes. We want to put all of those with the heart to donate their time to their highest and best use. Our opportunities are always changing depending on the number and availability of volunteers and the evolving needs of the organization.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about how you can best serve with your time and talents.
Finally Family Homes partners with young adults aging out of foster care to help them achieve lasting success. To us, that means providing for their basic needs and supporting their goals in a caring community. We are a Christian-founded and driven nonprofit that does not require participation but allows for conversation and invitation to the faith community. Our programs include Family Care, Life Launch, Host Homes, Tiny Houses, and Alumni Support. Volunteers are key to our success and we aspire to connect our volunteers with opportunities that match their time and talents.