Nonprofit Housing Provider: Fostering A Change With Alex Maldonado

MCFA 14 | Fostering A Change

 

Fostering a Change is a nonprofit with an independent living program that serves female former foster youth who are seeking higher education. On today’s show, Athena Paquette Cormier and Alex Maldonado dive into the program offered by Fostering a Change, the type of housing they provide, and how one could qualify. Alex is the President of the Junior Board of Directors of Fostering a Change. As a former foster child herself, Alex talks about extended foster care and her thoughts on the system she grew up in. Becoming independent, financially stable and a contributing adult, Alex highlights the support that Fostering a Change gives to women 18 to 24 years old, an environment that is geared towards each individual’s success and progress not only in school but in life.

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Nonprofit Housing Provider: Fostering A Change With Alex Maldonado

I want to highlight nonprofits who provide housing to the underserved communities, mostly focused on women and children who are at risk and need more than just a government handout. They would be lost or forced to make poor decisions if they didn’t have this outlet, such as these nonprofits. In this case, the young adults who are aged out of the foster system have nowhere to go or have few places to go. Without education and a safety net, they feel lost or they can even become homeless. Often, these people also have to turn to survival techniques that are not good for them or our society. I wanted to focus on a housing provider called Fostering a Change. My guest is Alex Maldonado. She’s joining us to not only tell her story and how this group has impacted her life, but also to stand in for Jennifer Valko. Jennifer’s the founder of the group, of that nonprofit and tell her story and how this group came about. Jennifer is stuck on the freeway, so she can’t join us. Welcome everyone to Investors Corner and welcome to Alex. Thanks for joining me, Alex.

Thank you for having me.

Why don’t we start with Jennifer’s story and how she started Fostering a Change?

Jennifer was also put up for foster care from birth. When she was two years old, she got adopted by an amazing family and for years, she didn’t know who her biological parents and her siblings were. Around her late twenties, she decided to finally seek them out and see where she came from. She met up with her siblings and heard their stories and all the stuff they went through because they never got adopted. They were forced to still live with her biological father, who was abusive and used a lot of drugs. She was like, “I had this amazing life because of my parents who adopted me and they had to go through this.” She wondered, “What happens to these people after the foster care system?” As hard as it was, they ended up with good careers. What about a population that couldn’t make it and weren’t as fortunate in a way? She’s seen the light and keep pushing. She was inspired by, “What happens to this population that slips to the cracks?” She decided that she wanted to do something about it to help people to A, have stable housing and B, to succeed on a higher path with help in college and stuff.

Did she start this group when she was in her 30s or later?

She was inspired around her early 30s. From there, she was in mortgage and banking for many years and finally packed up, put everything in storage. She was like, “I’m going to make something work. I’m going to do something about this.” She took it from there. The organization started in 2013.

It was simmering in her mind for a long time and then she was finally able to do something about it, right?

Yeah, I believe it was around her late 30s. She’s finally put it together.

She’s a young woman for accomplishing all that.

She’s still young at heart.

Facebook is worldwide. Is this organization based in Orange County mostly?

It’s local in a sense that it’s LA County who we serve. We have four houses and the closest one to Orange County would be Cerritos. We have two of South LA and including Downtown as well. We have one in Venice near the valley. We’re serving the County.

It’s spread out. How many people do you serve? How many residents do you have?

We are serving fifteen.

Are you full house, full occupancy or no?

We do have one vacancy which is in our Cerritos house, but Venice booked. We do have one open for Cerritos.

There are still so many gaps in foster care that haven't been fixed yet. Click To Tweet

Tell me a little bit about the program. Are these foster kids that need a place to go because they’re over eighteen? How do you qualify for the program?

The wording is sensitive in the sense that they’re former foster youth. I’m 24 and I still get termed as foster youth. I’m like, “No, I’m not. I am out of the system. I’m not a minor. I’m not a dependent.” It’s sensitive in the wording like, “It’s female former foster youth seeking higher education.”

It’s just females.

Yes. Our program is a nonprofit with an independent living program that serves female former foster youth who are seeking higher education.

You guys take applications and you have a waiting list, I imagine.

In a way, we do but the waiting list is more towards the LA housing because LA is such a huge population with South LA and Downtown and then you have Compton, Watts, Linwood, and Hawthorne. That population is huge. It’s more convenient for a lot of girls to be in the LA area. I do have girls who call me, “If something opens in LA, please let me know.” I’m like, “I have one in Cerritos,” and they’re like, “Nope. LA.”

Are there any plans to go bigger?

Yes. I’m anticipating and I’m sure they’re on the same page with me. I’m hoping and thriving that we’re going to have two more houses open towards the junior college area since naturally, a lot of girls who exit the system go to junior college off the bat. It’s easier for that population, especially since junior college doesn’t provide housing.

Universities do, right?

Yeah, Cal State and universities provide the dorm. That’s still expensive. It takes a chunk out of your student loan and your Fast Pass.

What is the average rent or what’s the average that people pay to live there?

We keep it subsidized. The average is normally $500. That’s your own room and either your own restroom or shared restroom. We have a $700 but that’s a full huge master bedroom, almost two rooms put together. It’s big. It has a walking closet. It has its own private bathroom. That one’s higher and then we have a $600 room. That’s more because it’s a hard floor. That house does not have as many girls because we have one house that has three. We have one that has five. Sometimes, I’d rather have less girls and some are like, “I got four different personalities in here.”

Do you have rooms where people share to cut the costs more?

No, we don’t have shared because we have transitional housing, which they can group as many as four girls into one room and you’re paying $50 to $100. Some are like, “You put two girls in one room and they’re paying $100 or $200.” We figure out that that’s the regular transitional housing. Those are for girls who come right out from 18 or 19 years old. We are extremely independent with the sense that there was no curfew on the girls. They don’t have to be in the house at a certain time. They come and go as they please as long as they’re in school, work and fulfilling towards a degree and working up towards their workload.

With that being said, we’re the next step before they’re completely on their own with an apartment, a studio or two-bedroom apartment. The $500 is too many places and that’s a lot but you’re being independent. You’re paying your rent. This is your own room, your own space and you buy your stuff. It’s the next step into being completely on your own. When you’re in transitional housing, you pay only $50 to $100, that’s nothing and then imagine being thrown out in a true apartment where you’re paying $800 to $900 for your own place if you’re lucky, plus utilities.

MCFA 14 | Fostering A Change
Fostering A Change: Foster a Change is trying to break that whole detrimental in-your-mind countdown calendar.

 

That’s a big jump for people to go from $50 or $100 when you were in transitional housing all the way up to $800, $900 to $1,000.

Plus, their utilities and buying stuff for their house. A lot of transitional houses have their stuff furnished and they keep it. When I got my own apartment, I hadn’t gone through buying all my furniture, my utilities, and putting my own down payment for my apartment. It was like, “I had savings but it hit me fast.” I was like, “It’s me and no one else,” but it taught me a lot though. I wish there was that bridge. Being a foreign person in the program in its first years, I did learn a sense of, “It’s $500 and then I paid a little more.” It was easier for me to budget.

Because it was gradual.

Yeah, it wasn’t like, “$1,500 to your haul. You’re on your own and this is what you got to pay now.”

You’re a former foster youth, right?

Yeah.

Is it like when you turn eighteen, you’re out? How does this work for these foster kids?

Every state is different. The foster care system, even though that’s how at the federal levels, sometimes each state brings out all its laws and rules. In California, you were out by eighteen years old. On your eighteenth birthday and not a day after. Your birthday gift was like, “You’re on your own.” In 2010, they changed it and they called it extended foster care, which is you can stay in the system until you’re 21 so you can receive the services and money in your name. You can start getting more independent, but you’re not thrown out on your own. That came into play when I was sixteen years old. I went into foster care when I was fifteen. My case technically opened up in the system when I was fourteen and it closed when I was about to be sixteen. I had social services in and out of my life with open and closed cases. Being in the foster home, we hear stories and I have friends at my school who were also in foster care.

They were telling me like, “My foster sister just turned eighteen and she’s out.” Someone told me like, “My foster brother wasn’t going to wait around to be turned eighteen so he just left at seventeen.” I was like, “You’re not going to get the satisfaction and it was how the system was run.” I had thoughts in my head of running away and what I should do. I don’t want to be just, “You’re thrown out on your own.” I must start something with my life, too, when it happens. It was a lot of fear in my head that I was on a countdown clock and when extended foster care came out, I have up to 21, which is good because the money comes in your name, you’re able to do services, stay in college and get a job. There are still many gaps that we haven’t fixed yet because maybe there are not enough cases to fix. There’s not enough exposure or we’re missing this. On your 21st birthday, with extended foster care, you’re also out.

It happens to be your birthday. That’s harsh. When you were in the foster system, you’re watching other kids react to the system. It almost sounded like people want to take control and you’re super young to be trying to figure out how to take control of your life. That sounds like that’s what it’s about because you feel out of control, right?

Yeah. At some point, I felt like I was enslaved to the system because if I wanted to go out of state for my volleyball tournament, I needed to get permission from the social worker and the judge. It wasn’t that I was running away. If I wanted to go to my aunt’s wedding, which was in Vegas, I had to get permission. I was used to my mom saying, “Do you want to go? Okay.” I got to go through this whole legal process and they were telling me like, “You had to be back at this time according to your papers from volleyball.” I was like, “I have rights. I know I do.” I was self-sufficient.

I googled my rights one day on a computer and printed them out, email them to myself, and hand them with me everywhere because I was like, “I’m sure I have more rights in this world than I that I know myself.” I was self-sufficient but even though I knew my rights and I was strong, it’s hurtful in general knowing that you have a time limit. It may not be permanent. The system holds you microscopic, I swear. I felt like I was being watched every time and it was. Social workers are shaking up in and out. I know they’re doing their job, but I wasn’t used to it. I was used to having much.

You were with your family until you were fourteen, so you were grown up.

I was with my biological mom by fourteen and then about three months before my fifteenth birthday, I was taken away.

If people are in the foster system from a young age, it’s not as shocking because it’s the way they know things. You probably had a different perspective than other kids.

The system is just hurtful in general, knowing that you have a time limit, knowing that it may not be permanent. Click To Tweet

I’m sure all of our perspectives are never going to be the same because I met people who told me, “I’ve been in the same foster home from birth to 21.” I’m like, “That’s amazing.” I met some who are like, “I’ve been bounced around over ten foster homes.” I met some who are like, “I’ve been in the foster care system for one year and within that year, I moved school six times.” I was in one foster home but the funny thing is before that foster home and after, I was bounced around like crazy to many cities and people. The only stability I had was like, “I know I’m not going to get hurt than when I was in the foster home.” My experience was different from a lot of other people.

Fostering a Change takes young women who are 18 up to 24. Is there an age limit in the home?

What’s unique about the system with Fostering a Change is you come in between 18 and 24 but you don’t have a term and you don’t have an age limit. As you come in before that age bracket of 24, they can stay as long as they’re working towards an educational degree and they’re working towards something higher. The unique thing is that a lot of programs have either two-year term or until you’re 21 or you’re 24. Those are the magical numbers when it comes to paying your debt.

From us, it’s like, “As long as you’re in college, you’re showing the progress that you’re working towards a higher degree, you’re working. You’re paying your rent like any other adult, you can stay here and you’re good.” We try to move from there like, “Do you want to get your own apartment? What do we do?” We work from there. As far as their age, we don’t want to have that whole continuous stigma in their head of, “You are only here for this amount of time.” We’re trying to break that whole detrimental in your mind countdown calendar.

That was what you were describing was the problem with the foster system. You’re trying not to repeat that pressure that’s on people. That makes sense. When did you meet Fostering a Change? When did your experience start?

It was my sophomore year in college and I had broken up with my ex-boyfriend of three years. He helped me out during high school and after being a young adult. It didn’t go as planned. I went to the link coordinator at the time. It’s a program and services college for aged-out foster youth who are seeking education. I was close to her and I went to her for advice. I said, “This is my situation. I’m living with him, but I’m paying for everything and it’s hard for me. It’s not working out. My main issue is my school. I come too far to throw it away. I am not going to be like everybody else says. I’m going to get a degree and keep continuing. I’m applying for apartments, but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I can survive on my own, but I’m on a time limit right now that I need to be out because I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

She was like, “Okay.” She gave me two places. One was transitional housing in Norwalk and the other one was Fostering a Change. She told me the difference which was Fostering a Change was a nonprofit. It’s in Long Beach and it was $500 per rent. She said, “The one in Norwalk is cheaper, but it’s state-funded. It’s transitional housing.” Immediately, I was re-traumatized and I was like, “I don’t want anything to do with the state or government. I don’t want anything to do that’s mandated.” You got to go to therapy mandated like counseling. I was like, “No.” It clicked in my head where I was like, “No, I’m not going back to that life.” I said, “I will hustle my butt from Long Beach and back. I will save money.”

I was working in commerce and Long Beach is on the whole other side of I-710. I was like, “I would do whatever I can to pay my rent. I’ll try to get into this program because I’m not about to go back to the state.” That’s what went through my head. I called and Jennifer called me back quickly. We met and interviewed. It was good and I didn’t get a chance to meet the girls, which I like. You get to meet the girls before, so you have no idea who you’re living with. You have an idea how comfortable you are and you trust this person to be your roommate. I was like, “I couldn’t meet them, but I’m going to make it work.” I said, “I work at Shakey’s. These are my hours and these are my days. You can come and I’ll serve you your dinner and bring all the girls.” I was like, “I’m not going to mess this housing opportunity up for me.” They came and from there, it skyrocketed for the past couple of years knowing Jennifer.

It’s amazing that Jennifer interviews people herself. Does she still do that?

I’m the one that does it myself. I take on the girls when I feel like, “This person is good.” We trust them to know where the girls live. I will ask the girls to schedule. I’ll say, “I need at least two girls from the majority so you guys can get a feel.” I got at least a good two girls, which is good. That’s a good thing. We still keep it that way.

Do the girls vote on whether this new girl can join or is it like a done deal, “Here’s your new roommate?”

The girls vote and I love it because they are territorial in a good way. They look out for each other in a sense of like, “I don’t know if that girl’s attitude is going to click with yours. I don’t like what she said. I don’t think she’s going to use this as a good positive experience and that’s going to affect all of us here.” I’m not about to have a drama house like, “I’m here to get my stuff together. I don’t want someone bringing me down.” They come with their questions ready to go and they take notes. They’re analyzing the good real-life situation. What would you do if this happened? How would you handle it? I’m like, “The girls know everything.”

That’s awesome that they come up with these scenarios, right?

Yeah.

Those girls will be good at interviewing when they start their career and they’re manager or something. They’ll know how to spot problems. Those skills that they’re getting are amazing. It sounds like you graduated a little bit. Are you still living in the home?

MCFA 14 | Fostering A Change
Fostering A Change: The youth know what to do. They just need a little more guidance.

 

I moved out of the home back in 2015 or 2016 and I got my own apartment. I am graduating with my BA from UC Irvine with Psychology and Social Behavior.

Congratulations. That’s amazing.

Thank you.

How many jobs do you have?

I work for the City of Commerce. I’m a park worker, where I work with kids and park programs. I coach a travel volleyball team. I commit about 25 to 30 hours there. I’ve been there for five years with the city, but I’ve been finally employed with Fostering a Change. I don’t mind because at the end of the day, I’m helping the girls and I was in their shoes at one point. I give back as much as I can like, “We’re not that big an age difference, but I’ve been there, done that. Let me help you at least.” I have that all the time. I am also a volunteer with some nonprofits. I’m volunteering side work for about ten hours a week. I’m also a board member with certain nonprofits. I’m part of the OYC for Alliance for Children’s Rights, which is the opportunity to be collaborative. We speak out in events and we try to get people involved with the foster care system. I’m part of LAHSA, the Los Angeles Homeless Youth Forum, where we speak out as former kids who were homeless at one point. We come together as board members and we’re like, “This is what we do. This is what we need to change. We take on real-life issues.” I’m part of Chime In, which is a nonprofit for the youth ambassadors who are trying to change things in the world. That’s my weekly life, homework, school, and friends.

How much turnover would you say is normal in the home? Do people stay a year on average or two years or their life is you don’t think they’ll ever leave? What do you think is the norm there?

Eventually, for the turnover, because it’s been only a few years, it’s the hardest day because the original girls that we had all moved on. One of the girls has been there when I was there and she’s now an RA, residential advisor, for houses. She’s been there the longest and she’s fulfilling her master’s program. I’m proud of her. She’ll be having a Master’s in Social Work. The housing helped her and she’s done amazing work. She’s probably the one we could say that we see that stable housing helps. In the LA house, because it’s new, we opened it up early June of 2017. It was hard going through the applicants because we had two houses in LA, brand new and has ten bedrooms. From June 2017 to December 2017, we finally got it all filled, all the girls, and all the rooms in that house.

You said that the money is in your own name. When you’re a foster kid, the foster parent gets the money, right?

Yeah. It goes to them and it’s supposed to be for the aid of the kid.

Did you say at eighteen because they’re emancipated and the money’s now in their name or comes in their name?

It goes back towards living expenses. They get independent living classes and they have a bank account. It is supposed to be to teach them how to pay rent, how to get a license and stuff like that.

Is it coming in their name or is it still under someone’s help or control? Do they have full control of the money?

As far as I know, I was told the money was full control. Some people who I’ve known who’ve been through it since I haven’t been through it, they told me that it comes in their name and they taught how to budget, and they go from there.

Fostering a Change provides housing but do you provide healthy living classes like balancing a checkbook, what a credit card is or anything like that? Do you have life skills classes, too?

Life is still life. As successful you are, things might still happen. Click To Tweet

Because it’s extremely independent, a lot of these girls do come in knowing stuff like that. I am extremely hands-on, where I’m like, “What do you need from me?” We can’t assume they’re all on the same level being as young, as independent. For example, one girl took her to the bank. I helped her and she created a bank account. Another girl asked me, “How do you fill out a check?” I was like, “This is how you do it. We don’t need this whole class.” They ask me basic questions. One girl asked me, “Alex, do you know where I can go for spark plugs in the area?” I was like, “I don’t know but I’m sure we can just Google it.” She was like, “I didn’t think about that.” They know what to do. They just need a little more guidance. A lot of these girls come in ready and we’re like, “I can pay for this. I can afford it. I know this. I have this.” That’s the benefit.

You’re creating a stable environment at a fairly cheaper price than what they could get out there in the market so that they can get their education.

I fill in the gaps as they come because I’ve asked girls this and they’re like, “Yeah.” I don’t want to assume that they’re 100% don’t know it, but I know being in that lifestyle, it’s not always that you know it either. A lot of these girls come in and they’re like, “We know this. We know that. Can you help us with this? How do you get a car? How do you get credit?” I’m like, “Okay.” I’m more than welcome to always sit down with them, text them or walk them through stuff. They know what to do, which is good. When we do see staff that’s promoted at colleges or places, I do send them flyers and pictures like, “If you guys are interested, this workshop here is this,” because we don’t want to assume that they don’t know, but we don’t want to deprive them of knowledge that comes up as well.

You’re respectful but you’re there as a coach.

Yeah.

Are these only single-family homes? Because you said ten bedrooms. That’s a lot of bedrooms for one house.

The ten-bedroom one is two houses. They’re duplex and they’re right next to each other side by side, identical, and they’re three stories. The perfect thing is it’s on the same property and right next to each other.

I couldn’t let that one go. I was like, “How do you get ten bedrooms in one house?” What do you think is the biggest challenge in running these homes?

The biggest challenge is more the idea, thought and concept that you can never predict what’s going to happen and you can never house all the girls that you get called for. When I have people say, “I need housing,” and we’re full, it makes me sad because I think to myself like, “The population is huge.” It’s like, “I can help this girl. She can go on to be amazing and get a degree but life is still life and things might happen. Even how successful she is, things might happen.” I can only do so much. I think of it like that. I’m like, “I know this girl can go far. When she does this program, what’s going to happen?” That’s what goes through my head at times. Any parent prepares their kid and their kid leaves the homeless. It’s like, “I prepare them and I try my best.” Anything could happen though.

You can’t protect them forever. You could follow them around for the rest of their lives, but that’s probably not a good idea. When you have conflict in the homes, how do the conflicts get resolved?

The girls talk among themselves first. I always tell them, “You’re adults and you know how to talk to each other, I hope,” and you take it from there. At times, they need me to mediate and I am more than happy to. It is stressful, but I would rather do it so we can squash it now instead of it prolonging and get into something worse. I’ll go and I’ll try to mediate if it’s between two girls or maybe the whole household, but it’s always talking. If something happens, we talk. I’m in their group messages and I see what happens. The girls are backed up, but these girls are so busy. A lot of these girls work full-time and go to school full time. They’re in and out, and they’re there from maybe 9 PM and up. They have homework and they’re dead. The good thing is I think to myself, “Maybe they’re just so busy that they’re not going to have conflict. They won’t have the energy.”

If you’re busy, you don’t have time to make problems.

I make that a point in our interviews from the beginning, as far as even their lease and their roles. I make it a point that communication is key. I’m like, “If you ever have a question, if you are looking at the paper, you see and you don’t comprehend it, and you know it, text me. Have confirmation and clarification before you take on something that may not be correct. If you don’t know how to handle it and you’re not sure you need advice, text me.” The girls are good at that. They text me a lot, but I like that they’re trying to confirm that they’re trying to get the answer first before winging it.

It sounds like you’re a coach, but you’re also a manager. Are you a property manager for these properties?

Yeah, in a way. I always see the houses and I drop in. Being that they’re spread out, it’s hard to see them all in one day and it’s hard to see them in one week as well, so I try to rotate them. I drop in. I do my house inspection, making sure everything’s up to date and nothing is falling apart. Everything’s beautiful as it should be. It’s funny because we’re talking and I’ll be there for 2 to 3 hours and we’ll be talking about school, boyfriend, life, cars, and everything. That’s how you want to plan a visit. When I plan, I say, “I’m coming and I need to talk to you to see how you’re doing.” That goes smoothly but when I go and it’s not a plan to talk to the girls, those are the ones that I’m like, “It’s 10:30. I need to leave.”

Under what circumstances did someone have to leave the home? If you have a tenant that doesn’t pay rent, what are the guidelines around that?

We try to work with the girls as far as the moment that any issue comes up and they express like, “Financially, it’s hard,” or like, “I might be having a conflict with a girl because we don’t see eye to eye.” I immediately step in and if it’s an issue with the girl, I’m even as far as like, “If you need to tell me something, you tell me and then I’ll tell her. We’ll slowly work back to that one-on-one communication between you two.” If it’s financial issues, I’ll sit there and I’ll text or email the girl, “These jobs are hiring. Here are all the workshops. Here are all the job fairs. Let me see your resume.” We’re going to tweak it up, fix it up and edit it. I’ll send it back, “Here are more jobs. How are you doing with it?” “I’m on it.” Things happen. What do I need to do to help you financially so you can keep staying here?

What do I need to do on my end? We don’t just off the bat, “You’re out on your own.” I’m always like, “Have you applied for this job? I saw this opening. Apply here. This person is looking for these people to do this for good money. Here you go.” I’m always sending resources their way. If I throw you out on the street, what is that going to do? Sometimes, if you’re late on the rent, the good thing is we haven’t had that happen, I could always be like, “Pay a week later,” and that’s not bad. If I throw you out, what’s going to happen now? I’m always like, “What can I do? Are you getting money from school? How do we budget this?” I’m always in communication with the girls and any little issue that comes up, “What do you need from me? This is what I need you to do.” I’m a constant with that.

It’s like tough love.

Yeah. The girls are like, “Alex, you’re so blunt and mean but when we need you, you’re there.” I’m like, “You tell us and if you don’t tell us, no one else probably would.” They realize that, which is good.

You need to get pushed when you’re in a problem like that. A lot of times, you don’t see your own solution so you’re able to help them. Who’s on the team? You’re on the team and there’s an RA.

The residential advisor oversees the Cerritos house. At times, she helps me with the Los Angeles houses like, “Did you experience this? Can you contact the girls and help them?” She’s like, “Okay.” She is hands-on and more than welcome. “Here’s this girl’s number. I need you to help with this.” She’s like, “Yeah.” That helps out and then there’s me, I see all the girls, all the houses. Every month, I check up on all of them in person like, “How are you doing in school? How are you doing with work? How are you doing with this?” That’s why I started driving to all the houses. There’s the executive director, Alexis, and she is the backbone of if I’m not sure just in case, I go to her.

If I need clarification, even if I’m always the go-to person, I’m going to go get her when I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I’m like, “Maybe I didn’t wear this correctly, can you help me with that? Maybe I might need this.” She is the person that has the meetings and she’s like, “What more do we need to do?” She goes and gets people to get us more known like, “Someone reached out to me about this for a room.” She’s like, “What do you need from me so I can help you so we can succeed.” She’s that hated person but she does a lot.

For most executive directors, that’s true. You’re heading in the future. That’s what it is. How does Fostering a Change get funding? Is it all private donations or you get county money? How do you get help?

We stay away from the state, in general, because once you get funding from the state, they want to implement the curfew, they got to do this counseling, volunteering some places, and it’s so different. We do constant fundraisers, donations, sponsors and grants.

Who do you get grants from?

That’s my boss. That’s the secret person backbone. I’m too busy dealing with the girls and you’re doing that. That’s where we go our separate ways.

If someone wanted to support Fostering a Change, how would they either donate to, find out more about you and support you in some way?

If they want to find out more, have a question or know someone who needs housing or that person doesn’t have a house, direct referral, any questions or donations, and anything in general like that, they can reach us at three emails. The first one would be Alex@FosteringAChange.org. They can also reach my boss, Alexis@FosteringAChange.org. Our general email is FosteringAChangeLA@Gmail.com. All questions are answered within 24 hours. We’re quick with it. They can even call us at (424) 209-7266. We respond to it immediately. If they want to send us money, they can send us a check which will be sent to our address, which will be at Fostering a Change at 17216 Saticoy St., Van Nuys 91 406 and it’s at Box 154. They can donate online, which is at FosteringAChange.org. There’s a donation button and you just click it.

It’s much easier than remembering all those addresses. In the next few years, are you thinking of opening two more homes?

I see another one open in a few years because even though you open a house, you always want to see the pros and cons and learn from it and then go to the next house. Sometimes, you can’t just open a bunch of houses and they can all be empty. We go as far as furniture, personalities, interviews, and stuff. Even though we’re quick, we don’t want to just throw anybody in the house that causes conflicts. I schedule an interview. I do my job quickly and then we schedule with the girls to interview the next person.

I’m amazed that four homes got purchased and filled with girls who needed to be there. You could probably do that clip and pace again hopefully.

It’s hard but it is all worth it.

I’m amazed at how this change lives. You’re an example but it sounds like there are way bigger examples of people that have been helped by having a stable environment.

Any little donation helps. Any little thing as furniture. Being able to tell them that they’re approved and they can move on this day, some girls are like, “Am I able to move next month?” I’m like, “You can move in within two days,” and their face is like, “I’m going to be here within two days.” I’m seeing and knowing that you changed their lives. Even when I got my own apartment, I heard my landlord tell me that, “You’re approved and you can move in.” It’s any person applying for a house or an apartment but it’s giving me stability. That’s a life-changer for me. I feel like a lot of people don’t realize that the moment you have this key, that paper and it’s your name, it hits you like, “This is a life-changer. This is going to give you a roof on your head.” It’s a good feeling.

It makes it real. You’re out of control and all of a sudden, you’re in control, You’re safe. It’s your own place. It must be an amazing feeling. Thank you, Alex. You had to fill two sets of shoes, so I appreciate it. I’m sorry, Jennifer couldn’t join us. It sounds like whatever she thought of years ago came to be real. She must be so proud of herself and you. I’m amazed that when people put their minds to it, they can create something like this. It’s amazing. Next time, we have Elizabeth Eastlund who’s the Executive Director of Rainbow Services. That’s a housing and recovery system for battered women and their children. We’ll be talking with her about how they house these ladies and get them back on track feeling safe and enjoying life again. To join our mailing list of free events, text 444999 and then in the subject or in the text box, enter your email address and key code MORTGAGEFUND, and you’ll be added to our mailing list. Thank you, Alex. I hope to see you soon at one of your events. Do you have any events you want to tell us about coming up?

We do have one coming up but the date and details are to be announced.

We’ll watch for it. Thanks again, Alex and thanks, everyone, for joining us on this talk with Fostering a Change.

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