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As a young girl, Ashley had very little stability in her life. In foster care since the age of 14 due to neglect, she bounced between several homes without any sense of permanency. Ashley became pregnant during high school, giving birth to her son, Ashton. During this time, she was placed with woman who would become her long-term foster mom.

Tragically, Ashton’s father passed away in 2017, leaving Ashley to raise him as a single mother, still working to finish high school, and dealing with the grief that comes with losing a partner. Ashton was identified as being on the Autism spectrum, which added another layer of complexity for Ashley as she was learning how to parent.

In 2018, Ashley was referred to our Community Connections Youth Project® (CCYP). CCYP exists to help older youth who are about to age out of the foster care system navigate the struggles of approaching adulthood, connecting them to invaluable resources for self-sufficiency.

In Ashley’s case, our CCYP team connected her with Sammy’s Window, our clothing closet/food pantry, to help with basic necessities whenever she and Ashton needed them, even helping her to furnish her first apartment. They helped to teach her how to drive and secure a license at the DMV. And, when she received several traffic tickets, they connected her to our Legal Advocacy services for advice and support.

“The CCYP team has always been a good support system. When I needed advice with parenting or getting connected with resources in the community, they were always there. I didn’t have parents growing up, and they were kind of like parents for me.

Ashley’s current caseworker, Aubri, has been a particularly fierce advocate for her, going above and beyond to make sure that Ashley and Ashton have everything they need to keep moving forward. This was especially evident when, at the age of 21, Ashley officially aged out of foster care.

“After I was released from care, I went through a rough patch and a really deep depression,” she says. “The CCYP team was there to help me pick up the pieces and get everything figured out. They helped me renew my car tags, they helped me negotiate with my rental at the time after almost getting evicted, and helped me make up my rent that was past due.”

Aubri and the CCYP team worked diligently to help Ashley secure stable housing, calling apartment after apartment until Aubri took matters into her own hands, physically showing up at different complexes until they found the right fit. When she was approved, CCYP covered the move-in costs and assisted Ashley with obtaining household items to make her apartment feel like home.

Ashley graduated from Pinnacle Career Institute in 2021 and now works as a dental assistant. She loves her job, and, as she puts it, is “passionate about making people happy with the smile they have.” Aubri is still very much a part of Ashley’s life as well, lending a compassionate ear and a tool belt of resources when she needs it.

“Aubri also has a child with autism, so she is there for me to call if I have questions or moments of panic,” says Ashley. “It’s a blessing to have assistance when you don’t have anyone else to turn to.”

Programs like CCYP are only made possible through the generosity of people just like you! If you want to be a part of stories like Ashley’s, you can make a donation today.