Lynchburg, VA - Kids in foster care have a tough transition when they leave the system and go out on their own. But one area organization is bridging that gap and seeing a lot of success. Lynchburg's Impact Living Services opened its doors in July.
This program is for kids who are about to age out of the system. Once they turn 18 they can choose to stay in the system or not. ILS is for 18-to-21 year olds and the goal is to give them opportunities to succeed.
"I grew up in the projects of Roanoke. My family were bad on drugs and stuff like that," Ashley Harris said.
20-year-old Ashley Harris was forced to grow up quickly. By the age of five she was bouncing from foster home to foster home.
"Mom didn't really love us," Harris said.
In all, she lived in seven different foster homes.
"I was very hateful to people. I stole and lied to the people I loved and cared about the most," Harris said.
After years of that, she connected with the organizers of Impact Living Services.
"She has come literally from the bottom all the way to the top," Jason Brown, ILS Case Manager said.
Through the guidance of ILS, she says she learned how to become a better mother to her 4-month-old son and to be more independent.
"Getting a job by myself and grocery shopping and doing all that, and they taught me all of that," Harris said.
In the past couple months, she's gotten a scholarship to Liberty University and has gotten her Certified Nursing Assistant degree. She says she also has a full time job, a car, and is saving up for when she ages out of the system and will have to start paying bills on her own.
"Those are achievements for anyone, especially kids in foster care aging out of the system," Brown said.
"Oh, I'm so grateful. I wouldn't be anything without these people," Harris said.
This February, Harris turns 21 and will be officially independent. She says she is engaged and hopes to be married in the near future.To learn more about Impact Living Services, click here.