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Local organization offers mentoring, friendship to those who age out of foster care

According to the Department of Family and Protective Services, more than one thousand young people age out of foster care every year.

DALLAS — Here in Texas, according to the Department of Family and Protective Services, more than 1,000 young people age out of foster care every year.

These men and women between the ages of 18 – 24 live unconnected to a family or any caring stable adult.

A local organization is trying to change the outcome for those who never get adopted.

We met 18-year-old Alie Marshall at Bowl and Barrel in Dallas to talk about life and her time in foster care.

"I didn't really get to experience childhood in a childlike perspective. I had to grow up pretty fast. At the age of 4, I had to be mentally at the age of 8," she said.

Marshall went into foster care at the age of 4. She was in the system for 6 years.

They are painful memories.

"If I had the choice, I would ask for it to be forgotten for sure," she said about those years.

A family adopted Marshall when she was 10 years old. She loves her family and calls her adoptive mother her best buddy.  Marshall and her family do not always see eye to eye, so she left home when she turned 18 this year.

Marshall needed help with guidance and direction. That's when she got connected to a life-changing organization. 

"Connections Homes is more of like a mentor and a friend on the side to coach you through life and through vital points in your life," she said.

Connections Homes mission is to connect youth who have aged out of foster care with volunteers like Maria Caldwell.

She has become Marshall's mentor and friend.

"I just adore her. As you can see, she's awesome," said Caldwell. "I just love her. I love time with her and just sharing. She's like a daughter."

"I told her the hard stuff, the ugly stuff and the pretty stuff," said Marshall.

She has confided in Caldwell with her deepest and darkest secrets, never fearing any judgment.

"I'm like hey I did this in the past, this is what happened and she's like OK, yes let's move on," said Marshall.

Maria has helped to answer all of Alie's questions about college, work and life.

"I don't know the answers to these so having a friend on the side to help me through that is really awesome," said Marshall.

"I am always here in any possible way she needs. Whatever comes up, there's nothing she can't ask me or that I won't help her with. There's nothing off the table," said Caldwell.

Most importantly, they have fun together.

"We also talk a lot. Three to 4 hours of talking sometimes," said Marshall.

When she becomes a child psychologist one day, Marshall will lean on these moments of friendship to help other foster children who are suffering.

"I could definitely share my story and say 'hey, I know this may not mean a lot to you, but I really do understand what you're going through,'" said Marshall. 

If you could offer friendship to a young adult who has aged out of foster care, you can truly change their life. Connections Homes would love to hear from you. You can contact them at connectionshomes.org

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