Sunday, September 10, 2006

Providing housing for foster youth who age out of care

`To Break the Cycle'
Inspire program puts six young women in apartments
Lisa O'Neill Hill, The Press - Enterprise. Riverside, Calif.:Sep 8, 2006. p. A07

Kristi Camplin saw a need and did something about it.

Camplin's husband, a former Riverside County social worker, had long expressed frustration about the lack of services for young people once they age out of foster care. So a year ago, Camplin, then a stay-at-home mom with a psychology degree and a sales background, formed a nonprofit group to help them.

Now, six young women live in two apartments run by Inspire Life Skills Training. One apartment is in Riverside; the other is in San Bernardino. In between shuttling her four children to school, soccer practices, gymnastics and other activities, Camplin makes sure the girls are keeping up in school, attending counseling and staying employed.

"I just jumped in and thought, `It can't be that hard,'" the 32-year-old Corona woman said.
Camplin had no idea what she was getting herself into and still has a lot to learn about running a nonprofit, she said. But this much she knows: She is giving half a dozen young people positive reinforcement and better odds at a more stable, productive future.

"These six young girls are getting a chance to break the cycle in their families and not be dependent on the system," Camplin said. "Any future kids they may have are going to have a better life."

Camplin formed her organization with $15,000. She and her husband donated $5,000 and the rest came from an Orange County transitional living facility, which served as a model for Inspire. Another Orange County group donated $30,000.

The organization receives no county, state or federal funding, she said.

However, Camplin hopes to raise up to $40,000 through an October fundraiser to help with the $65,000 a year operating budget. The young women in the program are scheduled to speak at the event.

She said she has been blessed that other organizations, friends and even people she meets at meetings have stepped up. Cal Baptist University provides free counseling. Hamner Towing in Norco and Corona Fleet help the young women buy cars and fixes the vehicles for free. The Corona Police Department has donated gift certificates.

Camplin also calls on a group of more than a dozen volunteers who teach the young women "life skills" classes and serve as mentors.

"It's just God keeping it together and keeping me going," Camplin said. "Every week I meet somebody new who can help me."

The need never ends. Camplin said she has six to eight applications from girls hoping to move into Inspire housing.

But for now, she has no more room.

*Inspire program director Kristi Camplin, 32, and husband, Dave Camplin, 35, both of Corona, help to find former foster kids places to live after they leave the foster-care system in Riverside County.

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