Hope Chest program helps Lubbock help transition youth to adulthood


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It’s been 24 years since Dr. Shaun Keel felt powerless to help a young girl she was counseling with a simple need.

The child, Keel recalls, was in foster care and receiving counseling from her through child protection services, but there was a limit to what she could help.

“She needed a used $ 50 dress, and no one would buy it for her, and I couldn’t buy it for her, because I was her psychologist,” Keel said. “It just drove me crazy, and I thought it was silly, because she deserved it.”

Today, the 64-year-old founder of Foster * A * Life and former psychologist from Lubbock has turned that feeling of helplessness into an opportunity for empowerment – helping young people aging outside the foster care system to take a good start in life.

“These kids deserve what my kids got, so I started this. It’s all her fault,” Keel added with a laugh.

On the past two Wednesdays, Foster * A * Life hosted their annual Hope Chest event at Target in South Lubbock, giving 19 area youth aging out of the foster system a chance to get life essentials. independent.

Once young people leave the foster family, they can decide whether they want to live on their own or settle into supervised independent living.

Foster * A * Life hosted two Hope Chest shopping events for Lubbock area youth aging outside the foster care system on the last two Wednesdays at Target on South University Avenue.

Hope Chest is an annual event where young people who decide to enter supervised independent living are paired with a volunteer to purchase from Target for $ 550 in household items, according to a press release from the organization.

The goal of Hope Chest is to provide necessary household items such as towels, crockery and linens to facilitate the transition to independent living.

The Hope Chest program is also an opportunity for young adults to focus on budgeting and decision making. Additionally, young people often feel empowered by something as simple as choosing dishes or bedding sets.

Founded by Keel in 2004, Lubbock’s Foster * A * Life has provided assistance, services and opportunities otherwise unavailable to children involved in CPS.

The goal is to improve the lives of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

Foster * A * Life promotes a positive self-image and increases self-esteem by supporting the general well-being of these children, according to a press release from the organization.

Marcus Ward, a 17-year-old from Amarillo, said he was grateful to Foster * A * Life.

“They are very generous with their freebies and the programs they have given us,” Ward said. “They help us to open our eyes more to the transition to a life outside foster homes and a more independent life. They have blessed us all with those things that we all struggle with in our early adulthood. They are really helpful with stuff like that. They have a lot of gifts that they have put in place for us. I am truly grateful.

Supervised independent living is for young people aged 18 to 21. There is an application process that all young people have to go through and they have to meet certain requirements.

Young people must either be enrolled in school – either high school or university – or have a part-time job.

Melissa Luman, 41 from Lubbock and adult life skills specialist for CPS, said some state colleges are partnering with supervised independent living so that young people can have an education.

“Maybe A&M Corpus was one of the first, but A&M really took the plunge and got a lot of young people involved,” said Luman. “If we have a kid going into a four-year-old college, that’s really the best way to do it because most of the time they have requirements where they have to live in dorms anyway. That way their housing is paid for, their meal plan is paid for, and then they give us an extra allowance to cover hygiene expenses and a cell phone. So they get the money back.

Luman said all young people who go to college receive a Tuition and Tuition Fee Waiver Letter, which waives tuition and fees for any publicly funded school.

“So like at Tech, this saves about $ 40,000,” Luman said. “They also enjoy other benefits associated with college.”

Dr Keel said it was important to her, because she wanted the kids to know that people care about them.

“We just want to be there for them. I guess I started all of this because I want these kids to know that people care, ”Keel said, tearfully. “There are people in this world who are good, and they give back. I think we just need to get the word out. I think we could probably get more help for these kids.

Foster * A * Life hosted two Hope Chest shopping events for Lubbock area youth aging outside the foster care system on the last two Wednesdays at Target on South University Avenue.

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