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'I want to help thousands if possible': Growing Home Southeast serving foster kids, families throughout South Carolina

From affordable housing for adults aging out of foster care to helping with bills for foster parents, Growing Home Southeast aims to secure safe housing for kids.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — More than $3 million has been raised to help over 550 organizations for Midlands Gives, hosted by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Growing Home Southeast is just one of those nonprofits receiving help from the community today. The organization helps at-risk youth and families by providing safe, stable places for children to live. Whether it’s helping young adults who have aged out of foster care or parents who raise foster children, the nonprofit’s goal is to build relationships with the people it serves.

"Now I will start tearing up. It means everything to me. I love this job," Tami Hersey the Leaphart Place program manager shares. "We do everything from adoption to foster care to wraparound services and one of the programs is Leaphart Place which is the program that I manage."

The program provides housing to young adults from 18 to 25-years-old who have aged out of foster care.

"These young adults are just like your children are. They want everything that you want for your kids. You know, they just haven't had the opportunity for…they want, they want structure, you know? They want the stability of that," Hursey explains. "I feel like some people think if people are homeless or they’re just young adults and they don’t have a direction in life, then that’s what they want. They want that out of life. But some of them just haven’t had the opportunity for somebody to put them on the right road. And that’s what they’re looking for. They want somebody to love them and care enough about them for what troubles they may or may not get into. They really just want someone to care. They really do."

From Hersey to Development Director Ashley Miller, that passion for serving children across the state keeps them going.

"I don't want to help just one, I want to help thousands if possible. That's my goal," Miller smiles. "Just helping one is great, but there’s so many children, young adults out there that need that support."

According to President and CEO Brennon Graham, there are about 3,000 kids who need homes in South Carolina. Each year, 300 teens age out of foster care, Graham says.

"When you’re looking at the stats, 25-30% of those kids are, I guess , statistically destined for homelessness. If we’re not intervening, then who’s gonna do it? It’s more than just providing treatment services or independent living services," Graham explains. "It’s making sure that they have someone that they can trust, someone who really cares about them. And we want to make sure because we care, we’re going to give you the support you need."

To provide that support, Graham says the nonprofit is taking volunteers and monetary donations from the community, whether that’s volunteering to teach a driving class to the young adults at Leaphart Place or donating money to go toward a foster family’s utility bills.

"In normal households or whatever you’ve got a mom or a dad or somebody teaching them how to drive. A lot of my kids have never even put a key in an ignition," Hersey says.

To donate to Growing Home Southeast on Midlands Gives, you can click here.

 Graham says the money will be used for recruiting foster parents, helping support young adults moving to Leaphart Place, fulfilling foster families' needs and maintenance on Leaphart apartments.

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