My passion for foster youth began with my earliest memory of the Foster Care family experience. This took place in Chicago in the 1980's while living in the same house with my aunt. She unselfishly made the courageous decision to become a foster parent. As a family, we learned early there are many steps involved in becoming a foster parent, and as the only child in the home, the case worker requested to interview me and then inspect my room, which I would be sharing with the child.
I recall feeling nervous but wanted to be on my best behavior as well as say the right things, so my aunt could be granted approval. Well needless to say, it all worked out, and before you know it, we had a 3 year old named Andre living with us. Immediately, I took a fondness to him and wanted to be a part of his journey. So, I appointed myself as his potty training expert and night terror protector. Every night at the same time, I would wake up to take him to the bathroom, so he wouldn't wet the bed. This became our ritual and eventually he stopped wetting the bed and just that little effort made him feel protected, comforted, and not alone.
Our family fell in love with the little guy, so becoming his temporary family never felt like work, just natural love and care. Andre's parents went to recovery and were granted full custody again.
Needless to say, after that experience our house was open to sharing our love with foster kids either until their parents recovered, or foster care moved them to live elsewhere. As I transitioned to adulthood, I attracted friends who were foster kids and those relationships expanded my journey of over 20 plus years experience with helping Foster youths either, by locating resources, by connecting them to the right people, or just offering a listening ear.
With that being said, providing a safe environment for foster youth's in need is something I am passionate about, so a natural progression was for me to DO SOMETHING IMPACTFUL for our undeserved homeless youth by arming them with the proper resources to live a productive life.
An African proverb says "If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together" so that's what we did and Chosen Few Housing Inc. was born.
As a transplant in the Peach state (ATL), with a passion for fashion and a love of community, my partner and I were fortunate enough to open a boutique and be the first boutique pop-up business in one of Atlanta's most influential mall's, where we invited other small businesses to showcase and sell their merchandise in our store daily. "Pop-up" is a term used to describe a temporary store or space to sell or promote merchandise. The pop-up experience is what gave us our start, so because we believe in community, it seemed only right to offer other small businesses the same opportunity. Therefore, my partner and I agreed, once we secured our space in the mall, we would have daily pop-up's. This means small businesses could come set up their product display with 2 representatives in our store to share our experience of what it feels like to have their store in the mall. If successful, the experience we provided may lead to possibly leasing their own store. This is how you develop community.
GIVING BACK IS IMPERATIVE BECAUSE IT HELPS THE COMMUNITY THRIVE AND PROVIDES INSIGHT TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF WHAT COULD BE -PATRECE
Besides running a successful women's luxury apparel boutique in Atlanta, GA., my leisurely activities involve volunteering, daily meditation, biking, fundraising, and meeting new people. I'm a vegan of 10 yrs., who believes in alternative medicine and a holistic approach to mental health. As life becomes more precious, we decided now was the perfect time to start giving back. As a result, we knew exactly what we needed to do an because we had it all planned out, from the name to the mission our vision was clear, so the next step was to bring it to life.
We gave birth to an organization that will outlive us and continue to serve the community when we are just a memory.
Foster Care is personal for me, because I was given up for adoption at birth. I spent almost a year in the foster care system until, I was adopted by my forever angels; The Washington's. I will be forever grateful for all the love, protection, as well as the creative approach they used to raise me. I know it wasn’t always easy for them to be in their mid-40s and having to chase a toddler around. Looking back, I admit I was a handful and tested their patience often. This brings me to why I became interested in helping foster youth.
As a young adult, I started my career working for a few Nonprofits that worked directly with the Department of Human Services. In that space, the organization provided services to more than 250 infants and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities from their parents being on drugs, or just plain neglect. These were infants and children being cared for in a dormitory style residence. The major key to their development was to understand the clients, by providing a sense of “familiarity and camaraderie to make them feel as if they are in a home environment. This sparked my passion for helping disadvantaged who are in need of love and support. By providing housing and other resources to help guide youths out of a sense of desperation.
At 27 years old, I found my birth mother who had other children. Ironically, I wasn’t the only one dealing with abandonment issues. As I got to know my family, I learned I wasn't the only one in the foster care system. Some were either in a kinship or placed in the system like myself. Unfortunately, the cycle continued within the family nucleus as my siblings and sibling's children also experienced either side of the system at one time or another.
Listening to the stories and being a witness to the loss of my niece and nephew weighed heavy on my heart and prompted me to think about how I could be impactful to the youth in a system, which hasn't proven to be the most efficient in caring for the needs of our youth. It was that moment I made up in my mind and decided to be of service to youth ages 16- 21 that are on the brink of aging out of the foster care system. For me, I always thought about how much different my life would’ve been had I not been fortunate to find a forever family. That’s when I knew my purpose is to help the ones who aren’t able to find that “family”. I figured as long as I put God first and stay committed to offering the knowledge I’ve gained through these real-life circumstances, the skies the limit for how far they can go with the right resources and people who really want to help see them become thriving productive citizens .
Presently, I am the co-owner of P2 Squared, A women’s Lux fashion Boutique in Atlanta, GA with my partner Patrece Paul. I’m also a mother to an adult Son who is doing well and managing his life in the Sunshine State. Day to day I have a pretty set routine. In the A.M, I’m a firm believer in Meditating to calm the mind and raise my frequency, so no matter what curveballs are thrown my way, I’ve already woosah’ed myself into a state of calm & cool. My other interest is finding a dance, or cycle class at the local gym when time permits. Additionally, I love, LOVE watching sports, preferably Basketball. Hey, I’m from Chicago, and we Chicagoans are still very passionate about our beloved Bulls😊
” I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”- Helen Keller
We provide housing, educational resources, and several programs to help guide our youth to a successful transition. Additionally, we believe in taking a holistic approach to mental health within a positive environment to aid homeless youths between the ages of 16-21 transitioning from foster care to independent living.
BENEFITS OF A INDEPENDENT LIVING PROGRAM
Independent living can play a crucial role in success and wellness. There are many benefits to show how vital Independent living can be for young adults.
Youth living in Independent housing have onsite support and the opportunity to make friends outside of the house.
Transitional living provides a safe and stable atmosphere away from harmful influences.
Transitional living provides structure and a positive outlook.
Transitional living serves as a gradual re-entrance into a community and back into a healthy lifestyle.
Transitional living provides an opportunity to reconnect with family, friends and even find or resume employment at a slower pace.
Transitional living programs can help residents understand money management, time management, paying bills, and working.