New home transforms lives for teens aging out of foster care

DOVER — Two weeks is all it took for a resident of KISH Homes, Inc. in Dover to find a job after aging out of the foster care system.

 KISH Homes, Inc. Volunteer Ann Warren helps teach residents life skills like cooking and cleaning, skills those aging out of the foster care system often lack. The Journal/ Jennifer Antonik

KISH Homes, Inc. Volunteer Ann Warren helps teach residents life skills like cooking and cleaning, skills those aging out of the foster care system often lack. The Journal/ Jennifer Antonik

After bouncing around between abusive homes, foster care and a grandmother’s house before being threatened with an eviction because she was pregnant, the new resident says her future finally looks promising thanks to the passion of Felton resident Dr. Kishma George and a staff of volunteers and interns.

“Doors are opening for her,” Dr. George said.

“She has a bank account now and a savings account for her and her son. She’s working on getting her license and housing. The goal is to not just help develop independent living skills, but when they leave here, we want them to never be homeless again.”

Kids aging out of the foster care system face a multitude of problems, according to Latasha Wilson who aged out of the foster care system herself four years ago.

She now has a drivers’ license, car, son and is in college studying phlebotomy. But it wasn’t easy for the Dover resident. Aging out of foster care meant homelessness with nothing to call her own. That is until she also met Dr. George.

“Now I have a new car, a family, I’m in college… I’ve accomplished everything I wanted, but didn’t have, because I have the right people in my corner helping me,” Ms. Wilson said.

Dr. George, a Felton resident and social worker by day, mentors Ms. Wilson and others in hopes of helping them “get on their own two feet.”

 Dr. Kishma George (right) stands proud with success story Latasha Wilson. The pair now mentor young ladies as they age out of the foster care system. The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

Dr. Kishma George (right) stands proud with success story Latasha Wilson. The pair now mentor young ladies as they age out of the foster care system. The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

For the past 7.5 years, she has also worked tirelessly to create not just an emotional home for girls leaving the foster care system, but a physical home as well.

“I want them to walk through that door and feel like they can dream,” she said of KISH Homes located in Dover.

Four young women at a time can stay at KISH Homes for now, although Dr. George hopes to expand in the future.

“When you come out of foster care, your biggest stress is, ‘where am I going to stay,’ ‘ how will I get money,’ ‘where’s my son going to stay,’” Ms. Wilson said. “ You don’t have that worry here.”

Dr. George and a staff of volunteers and interns work with the girls from the moment they tour the home up until six months after they leave to ensure individual success.

“We complete goals with them with time periods so that they see them actually manifest. When you write it down, you get to see them unraveling,” she said.

Residents and volunteers enjoy activities together such as evening activities focused on dreaming and inspirations, as well as empowerment workshops.

Volunteers, like Ann Warren, help the young women prepare for life outside of the foster care system by teaching them practical skills such as cooking and cleaning, skills they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to learn.

“I know how to make macaroni and cheese now,” Ms. Wilson happily exclaimed.

“Growing up in foster care, we’re bounced around a lot and can feel abandoned. We don’t feel like anyone cares. That’s why you see a lot of drugs and pregnancy problems because it seems like those people love you,” she explained.

“But we need people like Kishma. They actually show you love, care and how to do stuff for yourself. They’re passionate about this. We make them proud.”

Dr. George said the nonprofit is currently privately funded but she hopes to find grants and additional donors offering both money and material assistance. More information and photos of the home can be found online at www.kishhomeinc.org.

“We’re just beginning this project, but I just want people to know we’re open and accessible,” she said. “We want to reach as many young ladies as we can.”

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