For Genesis, transitioning from foster care to independence came with hurdles, particularly in regards to housing. After finishing high school, Genesis attended college on a full-ride scholarship. "I went from foster home to dorm," she says.
While Genesis did find a community and forge strong friendships at school, the transition was not easy. She was working, going to school and paying rent. This financial burden led to a period of homelessness for her.
Watch "Genesis: Finding a Safe Place to Call Home" to hear how lonely Genesis felt when she was homeless in college.
Then, Genesis found OC United through a friend who was staying in their housing. Genesis was able to move in and even bring her beloved dog with her.
"The biggest blessing was a roof, a house, a place to be at," she says.
The security that comes with having a home helped her with her schooling too.
"I became more ambitious in what I wanted to do," she says.
Genesis, who was already majoring in communications, added a minor in human services, inspired by the assistance she found. She graduated in 2020.
Genesis encourages other youth in similar situations to find their communities, reach out to them and become involved.
"I think it creates a big chain where you're in need of help, so then you receive the help, and then you want to help," she says. "Seeing other people graduate from college, knowing that they were former foster youth, definitely did move me and encourage me and push me to want to be like them, to want to graduate college to want to continue thriving."
OC United: OC United is a coalition of non-profits, church groups and others in Orange County that help those in need. For former foster youth, their THRIVE (Transitional Home Recognizing Independence, Value and Empowerment) program provides affordable housing, mentorships, career development and other opportunities for people between the ages of 18 and 24.
Youth Moving On: Pasadena-based organization Youth Moving On focuses on people between the ages of 16 and 25 who have transitioned out of the foster care system. They offer life skills classes and work with youth on money management and career and educational goals. YMO also provides housing services.