This is a mass solicitation. Please read if you are interested in financially supporting foster-youth transition into adulthood. For the privacy of the mentors and residents, all names have been changed.
To start at the beginning,
Last summer I was hired to interview the director of the DCFS in Arkansas, which oversees foster-care. I learned a lot about the problems foster youth face through that experience and concluded, “I would love to be a part of the solution, but since I’m a young, single man, there’s no way for me to really be of any help.” (If you would like a 101 on some of the experiences foster youth face, the video is only 2 minutes. http://vimeo.com/fellowshipunleashed/fostercare )
Six months later, a friend asked me if I’d be interested in being a R.A./mentor for foster youth… and so I got hooked up with Immerse Arkansas. The whole deal sounded like a great opportunity for me to serve, given my flexible lifestyle… and so as I was weighing that decision, the need just proved too great to not do something.
Of foster youth who age out of the system…
— Less than 2% graduate from college.
— Very likely to experience homelessness
— Very likely to struggle with drug addictions
— Very likely to be imprisoned.
— Likely to have unwanted pregnancies.
— Very likely to suffer economic hardship
You may think to yourself, “Foster teens… Now that sounds like a lot of work!” And to be honest, at times it was. Suicide threats, unhealthy interpersonal behavior, depression, and anger-control were just a few of the trials we had to tread. But through those bumps, I did get to see an incredible amount of growth in my guys, as I was changed by my friendship with them. Let me share with you one of my favorite examples.
Boys Need Men
In order to make it to his school in time, Michael had to wake up at 5:30a.m. every day. Sometimes, it can be hard enough getting your own 18 year old kid to wake up at 7. Imagine your son had to get up at 5:30, but you’ve been too busy in and out of drug rehab programs to model a responsible life, and that 18 year old son you haven’t seen in months lives by himself, in his own apartment… Do you really think he’ll make it to class every day, or is it more likely that he’ll drop out and get a job working the line at Luby’s?
Michael came to us with his crisis. “If I miss three more days, I won’t graduate.” Enter mentor Kyle.
Kyle woke up at 5:00am every single day to help Michael meet the day. Sometimes, it would just be a text message. Othertimes, they’d hang out for breakfast or walk to the bus-stop together. Do you see the difference? Michael had a grown man that cared about him, and taught him, in this one way, how to be a man. Michael graduated high school, and he’ll enroll at UALR for the spring semester.
That was one of my favorite stories, but my favorite is the one that I got to personally be involved in.
Stories over Smokes
During my stay, Jeff and I hung out quite a bit. We played video games, watched movies, all that. And usually in the intermission, he’d take a smoke break. He was a Century 25′s man (“the most bang for your buck”), so I’d sit with him and we’d have a talk. During those smoke breaks, Jeff really started to open up. He shared things that he had never told anyone, and really came to grips with a lot of things that he was struggling with. Often, we’d talk about college and what he can expect – what I loved and what I regret. Of course I can’t go in to details, but all in all, we just became close friends, and through that, my heart opened up and I learned more about loving my neighbor, and he learned more about how he should live his life.
That is discipleship.
You hear about discipleship at church all the time. I have not experienced many organizations that are as committed to “life on life” discipleship than Immerse Arkansas.
Paul tells the Thessalonians, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” This is what Immerse does, and I can personally testify to the love they have for their foster youth, and how incredibly unselfish the Immerse leaders are with how they share their lives.
The Bottom Line
So here’s the deal. A donor has agreed to match new monthly commitments that are made between now and October 1st, up to $3,000/mo. So every dollar you give, another dollar will be given.
Right now, Immerse has $1,630 in monthly commitments. In their usual way, Immerse has decided that they want as many people as possible to be involved in the cause of the foster youth, and so they have set their recommended donation at just $12/mo. If you want to give more, you can – but it’s at a level where anyone can be involved who would like to be.
If you would like to donate immediately, go here: http://www.immersearkansas.org/donate/
If you would like to contact them to learn more…
6420 Colonel Glenn Rd., Ste. 1
Little Rock, AR 72204
Again, they are a wonderful organization made up of wonderful people committed to following Jesus and dsicipling foster youth. So, please consider it. Pray about it, think about it, watch The Blind Side, etc…
Thanks for the time it took to read this.